Sunday, May 31, 2009

Two Heads are Better than One

My mother always said that the problem with my father, as a cook, was that he thought if a little bit was good, a lot was a lot better. Uh. Not always!

However, I sometimes suffer from the same characteristic. Compassion, Int'l. is very sneaky. They post photos of all the kids waiting for sponsors. The ones that tear my heart out are the ones that have been "waiting for more than six months."

So that's how it is that I decided to sponsor a second child.

Pedro.jpg (157008 bytes)Meet Pedro Henrique da Silva Torres, age 10.

While I chose Anjali because her photo spoke to me, as I read conversations on Compassion's message board and kept being drawn back to the photos, I realized that I really wanted to sponsor a child in Brasil.

They say that older kids have a more difficult time finding sponsors, so I was looking for someone who was "older" and who has been waiting a long time for a sponsor. And with those criteria, Pedro just leaped out at me. He could easily be a 10 year old version of any of a number of Brasilian men who have visited here. And I was drawn to the fact that he not only enjoys soccer (what Brasilian boy doesn't?) but he also likes art. Boy after my own heart.

ceara.jpg (2596 bytes)So my little sponsor family is now complete, a 6 year old girl from India and a 10 year old boy from Brasil. Pedro lives in the state of Ceara which is kind of in the upper eastern corner of Brasil.

I guess I really had a "thing" yesterday. My intestinal disturbance pretty much lasted the whole next day. I went off to donate blood in the morning and, after being rejected about six times for low hematocrit over the past few months, this time I sailed through and they didn't even need to run blood through the centrifuge, which was nice. (Thinking of it after the fact, I remember that my temperature was elevated slightly, only 99, but high enough that she circled it on my form...maybe that was a clue too.)

I was feeling fine, gave bood. and then went to the snack table, as always. I had my donut and another snack, as I always do, and then started feeling upset again. When I walked home, it was in a cold sweat and I climbed into the recliner and fell asleep. I was never actually sick to my stomach all day, but I had a total of three naps and I was fine as long as I was sitting down but if I got up to walk, I'd break out in a cold sweat again and just feel very weak. And I couldn't eat anything. I ate 3 pieces of macaroni from the casserole I'd made the night before and knew that I'd be in trouble if I tried to eat any more! All I had all day, since the Blood Source snacks, was juice (I was going to have chicken broth, but we were out).

We went to see The Lion King at night. Remembering my potential problem from the night before, I packed a large zip-lock plastic bag in my purse, just in case!!! (My cynical friend Ron points out that one should always pack a plastic bag when going to see any of the Disney stage shows!)

Normally Walt leaves me off about a block and a half from the theatre and goes to park the car while I get the tickets, but the thought of that walk just seemed overwhelming, so he drove me almost to the door, which I very much appreciated.

Fortunately, I had no problems whatever through the show, but when I stood up afterwards, I had the cold sweat and weakness again, so he went and got the car and I sat and waited for him across from the theatre.

My journal entry for last night was kind of a cop-out, mainly because I just didn't feel like sitting up and writing a "real" entry...but I also thought the piece about Prop 8 was a very informative one that more people should read.

I did sit up and watch The Tonight Show (though since it ran slightly long, the DVR did not record the last part of it. Walt was watching it upstairs, so he let me know about all the kids that Leno brought on stage who were born as the result of the marriages among members of the staff of the show.)

I was going to sleep in the recliner, but the dogs really wanted me to go to the living room, so I did. They were wiser than I. I fell asleep almost instantly and woke up 7-1/2 hours later. I can't remember the last time I've slept that long without having to get up at least once.

I felt reborn in the morning. Nausea gone, cold sweats gone, and everything back to normal again.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Op/Ed: We're resilient, we're stronger

By Alan Brownstein | Special to The Davis Enterprise | May 28, 2009 08:18

Tuesday was a tragic day for California. For the first time, we have enshrined in our constitution a provision that rejects our state's historical commitment to equality and denies a specific group the right to exercise a fundamental right - the right to marry.

While other states in New England and the Midwest are advancing the cause of equality and human rights, to our shame, we have turned our backs on gay and lesbian members of our community. Under the constitutional regime mandated by Proposition 8, our neighbors down the street, our colleagues at work, congregants who worship with us, and close friends and family members whom we love are now branded as second-class citizens solely because they are gay or lesbian.

The wrong that was done on Election Day last November and upheld by the Supreme Court this week does not only stigmatize gays and lesbians. It transformed our understanding of the California Constitution.

Proposition 8 demonstrates that our constitutional emperor has no clothes. We now know that while our constitution declares that Californians have inalienable rights, in reality those rights can be denied by a bare majority of the voters. But rights that are subject to the approval of the majority aren't rights in any meaningful sense. They are privileges that can be abridged or withdrawn at the state's discretion.

Proposition 8 also fundamentally distorted the very purpose of constitutional law. Instead of serving as a shield to protect minorities against the tyranny of the majority, our constitution now serves as sword that requires the state to practice discrimination.

After Proposition 8, our constitution mocks the very idea of rights.

The Supreme Court is not to blame for its decision to uphold Proposition 8. We are all responsible for this stain on the integrity of our state.

We should have known better, but we allowed ourselves to be manipulated by fear and prejudice.

We now know if we did not know it before November, that the proponents of Proposition 8 misled the voters of California with groundless and exaggerated claims about the consequences of recognizing same-sex marriages. We were told again and again that if Proposition 8 was defeated, churches and clergy would be required to officiate over the weddings of same-sex couples - even if doing so violated their religious beliefs.

Yet today, when laws recognizing same-sex marriages are being considered in several states, opponents of marriage equality demean provisions in those laws that explicitly protect churches and clergy against any such requirement. Now they argue that such protections are unnecessary distractions, because the First Amendment prohibits any attempts to coerce or penalize clergy who refuse to perform same-sex marriages or any other religious ceremony.

Yet today's tragic affirmation of discrimination does not have to stand as law for long. Since this was a self-inflicted wound, we have the power in our own hands to remedy the harm we have caused. It is up to all of us to roll up our sleeves and work together to change our constitution back to one that affirms fundamental rights of liberty and equality.

Efforts are already under way to restore the right to marry to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Those efforts can be successful if people join together to offer a helping heart and hand.

This is a sad time. But those of us who fought against Proposition 8 are more resilient and stronger than our opponents realize. The sadness we feel today can and will be channeled into the energy we need to erase Proposition 8 from our laws and our lives tomorrow.

- Alan Brownstein is a professor of law at the UC Davis School of Law and submitted this piece on behalf of the Davis-based Gay-Straight Alliance for Equality. For more information, visit

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Near Miss

I lucked out tonight. I nearly had a "first" in all the years I've been reviewing theatrical productions, and fortunately it never happened.

I've done some weird things in theatres. I've kicked a zebra that made a whinny-ing noise in the middle of a serious soliloquy, I've accidentally turned on my tape recorder in play mode without knowing I had done it and, with everyone else, looked around in annoyance, wondering who was so rude as to disrupt the production.

But I've never gotten sick in a show. Until tonight.

We had gone to see the very funny "The Complete History of America (Abridged)" at Capital Stage. I was anxious to see this play for several reasons. For one thing, one of the authors of the show is Austin Tichenor, an acquaintance from the Lamplighter days (whom I last saw a month or so ago at a memorial service).

But for another, Stan Freberg's "History of the United States of America, Part 1" has been a HUGE favorite in this house. Everybody can quote bits of it. Walt and I can toss out lines like "rumble...rumble...rumble" and have the other respond "mutiny... mutiny... mutiny" and mystify everyone (except Bozoette Mary and her Joe, of course).

We think of the turkey as our national bird except for a kitchen mistake at the first Thanksgiving celebration, when everyone had their mouths all set for roast eagle. ("it's kinda scrawny, isn't it?" "Yeah--well, I thought I'd stuff some old bread in it and make it look fatter.")

We know the real story behind the Boston Tea Party and that the Revolutionary War would never have been won without the assistance of "the skinny kid with the pipe" (Norman Rockwell) who painted a backdrop that fooled the British into thinking there were more American soldiers than there really were, and that the real reason Cornwallace surrendered was because, as a losing country, he could then apply for financial aid from the rich Americans.

...I could go on and on....

So I was curious to see how this version of our country's history compared with Freberg's, and it's pretty much a totally different view, much more zany, much more high energy. You don't come out humming "It's a round, round world" or "Take an Indian to lunch this week." But then Freberg never made it to the stage, so he didn't have to deal with the quick costume changes either.

Anyway, the new version of history is very funny and I was enjoying it until about 15-20 minutes toward the end. I had cooked dinner before we left, but my stomach was feeling unsettled and it just didn't seem appetizing (though it is one of my favorite casseroles), so I hadn't eaten anything.

I took a sip of water from the bottle that Walt bought for me before the show and all of a sudden there was that unmistakable water-in-the-mouth feeling that precedes vomiting.

We were sitting in seats that were dead center of the row and I would have to climb over people to get out, but the feeling kept coming in waves. The problem was that I wasn't sure how much time I had if I got up. Could I, for instance, make it past the people I had to climb over without decorating their laps. And I frantically thought about the theatre lobby. Would there be a receptacle right THERE if I were successful in getting out the door?

One of the problems with having a "bladder of steel" is that I rarely go to the restroom in theatres and so though I've been to this one frequently, I had no clue whether there was a restroom downstairs or if I would have to go upstairs and try to find one there (we were on a river boat, which has restaurants and hotel upstairs and theatre downstairs).

There just was no good option.

I finally decided to stay where I was, clamp my hands over my mouth, breathe deeply, pray, and hope for the best. There were 3 waves of nausea, but then, thank God, it passed. I hope never to have that experience in a theatre again!

Tomorrow night we're going to see The Lion King (yawn)...last thing I need to do is throw up on the elephant as it parades down the aisle to the stage.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jay's Walking

Johnny Carson retired from The Tonight Show in May of 1992, after hosting the show for thirty years. I remember it well. It was like watching a good friend slowly fading away.

That last show, with the emotional song by Bette Midler and Johnny's simple farewell, delivered in front of the famous curtain, sitting on a stool are TV moments I will always remember.

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I started watching The Tonight Show during the Steve Allen years, when people had no clue how much a part of the American experience the show would become.

I didn't watch it much during the Jack Paar years. I never really liked Paar much and even today, watching reruns (specifically shows when Judy Garland was the guest), I still don't enjoy watching him.

But when Johnny took over after Paar quit in 1962, I began watching again. I don't know how long it took before it became part of my nightly ritual. The day ended with The Tonight Show, whether watched downstairs, or in bed (in the years when my back still let me sleep in a bed!) before turning out the light.

On Carson's retirement, I was torn. It was really a toss-up between Letterman and Leno. Letterman, in the beginning, was more entertaining (in my opinion), but for some reason I continued to watch The Tonight Show, more out of habit (and because in this area, Letterman comes on an hour earlier than Leno and conflicted with other things I was watching at the time.

His early shows weren't all that good. He was trying to be Johnny Carson -- and he was no Johnny Carson. When he took a couple of weeks off, redid the studio to reflect more of his own stand-up comedy and changed the format of the show, he began to make it his own.

I enjoy Jay Leno. But he has never had the appeal for me that Carson did. I don't record shows if I'm not home to watch. Walt's favorite segment was Monday night's headlines.

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If he was going to be missing it, I would often (but not always) record it for him.

I also enjoyed the "Jay Walking" and marveled at how ignorant supposedly intelligent people could be.

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But I just never "bonded" with Leno. He was never Carson. Leno is everyman; Carson was class.

In May of 1992, I recorded every single Tonight Show broadcast and still have them. I haven't even watched Leno this month, unless it was late night and I was working at my desk. So I won't be shedding tears over Leno's last Tonight Show broadcast.

And as for Conan O'Brien? He's a nice guy, but not my cuppa tea, so when Friday night's show rolls around, it could well be the last time I watch the Tonight Show, other to check in and see how O'Brien is beginning to reshape it in his own image.

I'm glad that I was part of the golden age of The Tonight Show, which ended in 1992.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Death of Equality

The California Supreme Court announced its decision about Proposition 8 this morning. The decision was not what so many had hoped. Prop. 8 has been upheld, but the 18,000 marriages performed already stand.

Comments were instantaneous on Facebook and Twitter:

-- Disappointed in the Supreme Court Decision.

-- deeply disappointed in the CA supreme court, and glad to be going home where people don't vote to take away my rights [this woman is about to move back to Canada]

-- Marriage is between a man and a woman...except for 18,000 of them. [this from Ned]

-- Yay! The CA Supreme Court held up Prop 8! Thank god gays won't get divorced at the same rate as the rest of the population!

-- I'm so ashamed to be from a state that has now officially legalized discrimination. I feel like I've been forcefully thrown five steps backwards from being an equal citizen.

-- annoyed that the slippery slope doesn't seem to slip beyond heterosexuals. At this rate, I'm never going to be able to legally marry my cousins and their dogs.

-- California annually caps the number of marriage licenses. Every gay marriage prevents a straight one.

-- this is an extremely sad day for our country, California, civil rights, and...I could go on and on.

-- ashamed of my state. SHAME ON YOU!

-- The one comforting thing about the outcome is the collective outrage of good-thinking people.

-- California, as a lifelong native, I am disappointed in you. At least my BIL's marriage stands. but anti-marriage? really?

-- California, you totally let Iowa out-awesome you. Just sayin'

-- Defend traditional marriage? Why not ban interracial marriages? Why not declare women as property? Why not re-enslave blacks?

-- I want to curl up and hide until the U.S. lives up to its promise to treat all people equally.

-- Separation of Church and State? Not in California.

-- So, let's see. What other basic rights can we in CA vote people out of? It only takes 51% to take away the right of women to vote, or blacks to ride anywhere in the bus, or 51% to say we should start up the internment camps again. Heck, 51% of Californians could make it illegal to practice Christianity or Islam or Mormonism. Or for people over 6' tall to drive. Of course, it takes a 2/3 vote to raise taxes...

-- I won't be a second-class citizen forever. Even the California Supreme Court can't steal my hope for this country

-- Odd... My marriage doesn't feel any stronger this afternoon than it did this morning.

-- California, I love you so much, and yet you keep disappointing me.

-- Oh, California, you make me sad. You are going to become the Texas of the West if you're not careful. Except, you know, with crappy BBQ.

-- Sigh. Supremely disappointed in the injustice of the CA Supreme Court decision this morning.

-- You know what destroys marriage? DIVORCE. We're gonna outlaw that next, right?

-- Hey 2nd-class CA citizens: Come to MA & bring your higher income brackets, education & high-tech skills with ya!

-- Most of us who got the chance to marry in California find little solace in today's Prop 8 decision. The fight is not over.

-- My new favorite protest sign: "Jesus had two dads. Why can't I?"

It is, I guess, important to understand that the previous decision by the court was that depriving gay couples from marriage was unconstitutional, and this decision was whether or not the voters had the right to change the consitution by a simple majority vote (tho it takes a 2/3 majority to raise taxes, as noted above). They were deciding whether the majority had the right to make decisions concerning the life of the minority. And the justices, 6-1, decided that they did. So if the majority was to decide that interracial marriage is not a good thing, that would stand too and people of different races would no longer be permitted to marry.

The one good thing is that they did not invalidate the ~18,000 marriages which have already taken place. This now sets up two classes of gay people in California, those who are legally married and those who can never legally marry. This at a time when other states are starting to recognize the right of gay people to marry the partner they love. It's hard to imagine that this is "constitutional" anywhere!

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts since November 18, 2003; in Connecticut since October 10, 2008; and in Iowa since April 27, 2009. It will become legal in Vermont starting September 1, 2009 and in Maine starting September 14, 2009.

California is obviously no longer the most progressive state in the union.

I am deeply disappointed in the Supreme Court today, but the fight is not over and it's time to go back to the initiative process and keep the eye set on 2010 for a proposition to overturn Prop 8. I think that a lot of people had their eyes opened about what Prop 8 really meant and one can only hope that if the subject is brought up yet again, the people of California will finally do the right thing. At least if a proposition permitting same sex marriage in California passes, the other side won't have anywhere to protest, because the court has already ruled that the people have the right to make that decision.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Paul Picnic

Memorial Day weekend, 1999, Paul's best friend Kag decided there had been enough doom and gloom and it was time to celebrate. So he and his wife Elizabeth invited everybody to the first annual "Paul Picnic" held at a park in Richmond (next town over from Oakland). We all had such a good time that it has been held every year since. Walt and I have gone to several of them. Walt's gone to a couple by himself. This year we went back for the 10th annual picnic.

Kag sent this year's invitation on April 20, with a photo of Paul attached.

Paul.jpg (47805 bytes)

"So, ten years ago today, the corporeal Paul left us. A lot has happened in that time. A lot I wish I could have shared with Paul. Since I can't, I'll do the next best thing – drink some bourbon with the folks that knew Paul best."

PPTFS.jpg (77459 bytes)Of course, by the time we actually get to the park, the picnic has very little to do with Paul directly, except that several people wear the shirts that Kag gave to us all that first Christmas after Paul died.

I thought about wearing my shirt this year, but I wasn't sure where it was...and, more importantly, I didn't think it would fit. But several people did wear the FTS shirts.

Paul would have loved it.

I found out a strange thing about death and anniversaries and such on the first anniversary of Gilbert's death, when I took a ferry boat across San Francisco Bay to visit the place where we scattered his ashes off Angel Island. On the ferry there was a little kid running around and someone asked his parents how old the child was. "He's just a year old," they said. It was a physical reminder of just how long Gilbert had been gone. The lifetime of this toddler.

And so looking at Kag and Elizabeth's oldest son was a real reminder of how long Paul has been gone.

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His parents had just gotten married and Paul performed the ceremony, shortly before he died. So he never knew when Milo was expected, or that he was named, not after Paul but for Paul. His father's name is Paul, so they couldn't name him "Paul" so instead his middle name is Travis, for Travis Bickle, the character Robert DeNiro (Paul's hero) plays in Paul's favorite movie, Taxi Driver.

I look at Milo and realize how long Paul has been gone.

But it was a lot of fun today. There was, of course, music.

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And lots of little kids of all ages (from Milo down to the youngest, Noah and Jack, who were around 1 yr old)

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Ned and Walt got some father and son time....

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...while they drank their Old Chub beers

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There were dogs, lots of good food, games, a playground nearby, and a long "creek walk." We left around 5 p.m., full and happy and got lots of hugs when we left the park. It's a really special tradition! Too bad Paul has to miss it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Noah, Jimmy & Melissa

First a note about the "Video of the Day/Week/Whatever." No, Harry is not back. I was trying to clean up some video off of my Flip camera and found this of Harry, back when he was still semi-hairless. He was trying to get up enough courage to walk across a glass-topped table to get to me, sitting in the other recliner. It wasnt until later that I realized he had no way of knowing that the surface was solid because when he looked down, all he could see was a lot farther down than the top of the table.

But he looked so cute, I had to process the video and get it posted. I'm always a sucker for puppy video! And I really liked Harry. I miss him.

I told Ashley that with the trip to France and Italy coming up next month, I didn't want to commit to taking foster dogs long-term, so she's using me as emergency overnight or short-term foster arrangements.

Noah.jpg (81206 bytes)First we had Noah, a sweet little Corgi mix. He was delivered to the SPCA thrift shop from the vet, where he'd just been neutered (though you'd never know it). I picked him up there to bring home with me. He arrived wearing one of those big collars, but as soon as I removed that, he was thrilled to be free. He got along very well with all of our dogs (Lester was still here then and loved playing with him, though he was madly in lust with Sheila).

He was absolutely no problem to have here and in the morning I took him back to the thrift shop, where his "real" foster home would be picking him up.

I think the day after Noah left was when Lester packed her bags and got ready to go to Boston.

Shortly after Lester left and we were settling back into having only two dogs again, Jimmy came for another overnighter.

Jimmy.jpg (68780 bytes)Jimmy was also a Corgi mix, but with a longer tail (Noah had a little stub that was always wagging) and an odd shaped head for his body. Another real sweetie.

He was here overnight and then all the next day, while waiting for his foster mom to get home from work. He got along well with the other dogs too.

When his new foster Mom was home (2 blocks from here), I got him on a leash and we walked over there. She has a huge pit bull of her own (in a tiny apartment), as well as a cat. The two dogs met on the lawn in front of her place and seemed to get into playing, so we gathered up the leashes to take them upstairs.

That was when I discovered that Jimmy was terrified of stairs. I got him about four of five steps up and he leaped off into space. Fortunately he was wearing a harness, not a collar. Picking him up and carrying him like a piece of luggage finally got him up to the second floor. I wasn't sure how the foster Mom was going to handle taking the dogs for walks, but she reports that Jimmy has become a real pro at going up and down stairs.

After I dropped Jimmy off, I went to the supermarket and while I was there, I got a text message from Ashley asking if I could take a dog for the weekend. I said yes. She neglected to tell me she meant now, so it was a surprise to arrive home and find Melissa here.

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Melissa is younger than Lester and taller than Sheila. She's a real bull in a china shop, wanting to check out everything, the higher up the more attractive. I've had to weight down the dog food bin with a cast iron frying pan to keep her from lifting up the lid. She's also a great incentive for making sure that the kitchen counter is kept clear of any pieces of food. She's not discriminating. Real food or garbage (e.g. strawberry remnants) all go to the floor and if they are appetizing enough, she'll eat them.

She's also a real magician. I put her in the cage last night and listened to her bark and howl for half an hour. Then the noise stopped and I heard Lizzie growling. Melissa was standing at the door of the living room and Lizzie was letting her know she was not welcome. She disappeared and I decided to just leave her alone, figuring she'd sleep in my chair (she did). But when I got up in the morning, I checked both doors to the cage and both are still locked. I don't have a clue how she got out. I'm going to try it again tonight and see if she still manages to get out...then maybe I'll suggest selling her to the circus!!!

One thing about taking short-term fosters is that you don't have them long enough to get really attached and they do add a lot of fun to your life. I love watching the interaction between the new foster and our dogs. After awhile you feel like you're "thinking in dog" instead of thinking in human, when you watch how they communicate with each other.

I prefer the dogs who stay longer, especially the puppies, but for awhile, short-term fosters are OK too.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Clowning Around

Every so often we bloggers hit on a topic that creates lots and lots of comment. The most comment I've ever had on any entry was on my "Bitter Hack" blog, on a negative review that has generated (to date) 35 different comments. If I get five comments on Funny the World I'm happy.

Mary (author of "Girl Clown") recently posted an entry about clowns in which she asked people whether they were afraid of clowns, and if they were, why? She's had a lot of response, mine among them.

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I've always had a fear of clowns. I'm a 66 year old woman and I am still afraid of clowns! And bringing all the rationale you can into it doesn't diminish that clutching in my stomach whenever I see a clown off in the distance performing for the crowds. I always make sure to give him/her a wide berth.

bozo.jpg (65753 bytes)I'm not sure why I'm afraid of clowns. I always loved listening to the Bozo the Clown records (that's Bozo on the left). I can still even hear some of them in my head. When I was in Australia and we were touring the Perth zoo, I saw lots of strange birds that I remembered from Bozo and the Birds. I also loved Bozo at the Circus and Bozo Under the Sea. (I think we still have those 78 rpm records around here somewhere).

But, you see, Bozo was safe. He was a picture in a book and a voice on a record. He wasn't this live clown-faced person standing in my living room.

It was OK to like Bozo the Clown.

It was OK to like Jimmy Stewart as a clown in "The Greatest Show on Earth" because that was a movie.

It wasn't the same as running into a real clown at a real circus.

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I've tried to figure out why I'm so afraid of clowns. I know clowns in person. I know Mary. She's a very nice person and not at all scary, but, as I told her, if she put on clown face, I'd probably be uncomfortable.

In spite of that, I find clowns fascinating -- at a distance. I loved the episode of The Avengers which spoofed the egg collection at Clowns International (which registers each clown's unique face, painted on eggs).

I suspect that while as a child it might have been outright fear of the strange looking clown, as an adult the fear is more being thrust into the public spotlight by being a target for a clown's attention.

My last close up and person interaction with a clown was with Sacramento's own "Timo." (I found his web site while looking for a photo of him--it's a fascinating site. I encourage the people in my family, and other people who know Timo to check it out. Especially the part "about Timo."

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We had gone to the state fair and were riding the sky tram to the other side of the fair. When we entered the car, there was Timo, sitting with his son. He was bawling the son out for something. Walt and I had to keep from laughing at the sight of a funny clown very seriously scolding his real-life son. But it didn't keep me from being uncomfortable being around a man in a clown suit. That includes Ronald McDonald, whose appearance at a local restaurant is enough to make me eat at Jack-in-the-Box instead of McDonald's!

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So I don't know why I'm afraid of clowns, but I am. How about you? Are you afraid of clowns? If so...why?

My Worst Nightmare!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Family Vacation

The Today Show did a segment on family vacations, specifically the vacation memories of the hosts. It sent me back down memory lane remembering the family vacations of my youth. We never went camping but my parents were big on going to vacation resorts. We almost always brought my father's parents with us.

I have a very, very vague memory of going to Verdier's Resort in, I believe, Sonoma County. My only really clear memory from that vacation was eating oatmeal with real cream for breakfast. It's still a favorite taste, though I haven't had it in forever.

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I think this photo was taken at Verdier's. I'm 2-1/2, according to my mother's note on the photo. I think it very strange that even at 2-1/2, I was so imressed by the real cream in the oatmeal that 60 years later I still remember it! I was obviously setting up to become addicted to food at an early age!

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The above photo was taken at Sunnyside Cottages at Boyes Hot Springs. I can tell I'm 7 years old because my hair has been was Shirley Temple curly until I was 7 when I finally begged my mother to let me have it cut. Then it turned straight until I was in my 30s.

My father made this wading pool, which we could bring with us to play in in front of our cabin. It consisted of a wooden frame (painted red, I remember!) and a canvas liner that roped to the frame. I remember we got a lot of use out of that pool. We also went to the nearby hot springs, where I learned how to swim in the big pool and also remember going in the hot pool, which smelled strongly of sulfer. Two strong memories from days at the big pool are listening to Nat King Cole's "Mona Lisa" over the loudspeaker and eating ribbons of taffy in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavor. Again, another strong food memory!

We went to Sunnyside Cottages for several years in a row. Our neighbors, the Calegaris, also came with us. We had small cabins with ice boxes in the kitchen (they delivered a huge block of ice to the kitchen once a week). My mother always remembers the day she got Karen and me all dressed up to go to church and then left us outside while she got ready. When she came out, Karen was sitting in the dirt, pouring sand over her head.

Sunnyside Cottages was also the place where my mother went berry-picking with friends and ended up standing in a hornet's nest and getting stung many, many times (but, she is proud to report, didn't spill any of the berries she had in her bucket!) I also rode a horse for the first time at Sunnyside. I almost never got to ride horses because rental was so expensive.

This was our cabin at the Konocti Harbor Inn on Clear Lake.

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This is my grandfather, my parents, and my sister. We went here at the height of my Judy Garland craze and when I read that they showed movies at night in the open area courtyard, I joked about it being a Judy Garland movie....and lo and behold, the movie of the week we were there was The Pirate, not one of her best movies. My father never forgave me for the fact that he had to watch The Pirate on vacation!

From a certain age (and I don't know what that was...perhaps 10 or so), I routinely spent 2 weeks every summer with Peach in Citrus Heights while her sister Mandy was spending 2 weeks in San Francisco with Karen. Then we'd switch--Mandy and Karen would go to Citrus Heights for 2 weeks and Peach would come with me to San Francisco. Peach still remembers the summer that I met her now-husband's best friend Duane.

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According to Peach, Duane was apparently smitten with me but he was a motorcycle rider and my father had a fit when he learned I had ridden on Duane's motorcycle and forbade me to ever ride on it again (being the obedient child that I was, I never did ride on it again). Peach tells me that Duane never married and she is convinced that he's still carrying a torch for me. (I could extinguish that torch real quickly by sending him a current photo!)

Friday, May 22, 2009

I Thought the Depression was Over

You remember the two days. Everybody saw them. November 7, 2008 in Grant Park in Chicago. Everybody was there, and nobody even paid any attention to Oprah. All attention was focused on Obama. Our long national nightmare was finally over. An intelligent, articulate, principled man stood in front of us and reiterated his campaign promises to right all the wrongs that had been wrought in the past eight years. "Yes we can!" we chanted over and over again, heaving a huge sigh of relief.

Then again, January 20, 2009. It was SRO all over Washington DC as everyone strained to see the first African-American President and everyone roared their approval as the former holder of the office slunk out of town, never to be heard from again (if only his vice president had done the same thing).

HelenThomson.jpg (12178 bytes)But I remember waaaaay back decades ago, when my friend Helen campaigned for the Davis School Board. She won the election easily, went on to be president of the school board, then was elected to the County Board of Supervisors, then became Chair of the County Board of Supervisors, then state Assemblywoman, and now, at the conclusion of her term in Sacramento, back in Yolo County as County Supervisor again.

Helen has accomplished a lot of good things during her tenure in public life, but I will never forget her telling me, right after she had been elected to the school board, that she didn't realize how much her hands would be tied by rules and regulations after her election, when it came to campaign promises. She had to learn her way around those rules and regulations, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

I am certain that everybody elected to public office, no matter how lofty or how lowly, truly believes that s/he can deliver on all the promises. "If you only let ME in there, I know how to fix it all."

I suspect we all have, within us, that simplistic notion out of one of my favorite movies, Dave, that if you give some corner store accountant a crack at the national budget, you can quickly sweep away the excess and balance the budget over a pizza and a couple of beers.

Little Buttercup said it best in HMS Pinafore: "things are seldom what they seem..."

Understanding all that, I still find it disappointing to find all these crumbled bits lying about the Obama pedestal, and getting thicker by day.

We would enter a new era of transparency, release photos of torture, close Guantanamo Bay, and make sure we know who was responsible for any wrongdoings to detainees.

We were going to restore the moral fiber of this country.

I was proud. I could hold up my head again. Finally there was someone who understood all the bad things that had been done in my name and was going to make me proud to be an American again.

But gradually, those promises have been chipped away. No photos. No investigation. Nobody held accountable. We were going to move forward and not look back. Well... o..kay. I guess I can kinda sorta understand the point of that. There are so many problems to solve and so little time to dedicate to something that is behind us. But more and more stories start leaking out and it seemed that with each new horrible thing that people are confessing, the administration is claping a tighter lid on any investigation, seemingly in direct opposition to what Obama seemed to stand for, and why I was proud to vote for him.

Today we hear about the new policy of "prolonged detention," where in a prisoner can be held in prison indefinitely because he might represent a threat to the United States. Obama wants to take this, if possible, even further than George Bush did. If I read this right, it seems that he wants the government to have the ability to arrest someone on suspicion of possible future terrorist activity and just keep them. Forever.

The man who we all thought would restore the principles of habeus corpus stood in front of the Constitution and seemed to stomp on it once again.

As I watched the report on the Rachel Maddow show tonight, and the stupified, barely concealed ire in the voice of Vincent Warren, from the Center for Constitutional Rights, I felt this huge lump forming in my stomach.

It was one thing when George Bush said things like that because he was, well, not too intelligent (or perhaps it was more "I'm not really an idiot, but I play one on TV") and the only thing that kept me going was the hope that the cavalry would ride in on their gallant horses, wipe out the evil-doers and restore hope to America.

I thought the Obama administration was that cavalry. Now I have this nagging feeling that just maybe I was....wrong.

In the meantime, a fluent Arab speaker is given his walking papers from the Army, after years of meritorious service because he admitted to being gay while the president who promised to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell does not address the issue.

And I'm just hoping that these are settling-in issues, much as Helen found when she attended her first School Board meetings, because I desperately want to hold onto that hope that I had on November 7, 2008. But with all that has gone before us, I just am starting to feel very depressed yet again. Maybe it's going to be business as usual all over again.

Except now Dick Cheney is talking, which makes it all so much worse.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

One At a Time

In an entry of the Pioneer Women entitled "Typos...and Compassion," I read about her friend Robin and a trip that Robin had made to India with a group called "Compassion International." A group of five bloggers went to visit the poor of East India. The bloggers each sponsor a child (or more) through Compassion, Int'l and were going to see the program and meet their sponsored child. Their adventures are detailed here.

It reminded me of the years when we sponsored children through Foster Parents Plan and later Christian Children's Fund. I don't remember most of them now, but I remember Park Hyun Joo, from Korea, who was about 3 or 4 when I "adopted" her. I fostered her for many years, from before we were married until after. I got very upset with Foster Parents Plan because I got a note one day saying her father had managed to get a job, and my sponsorship was terminated. There was never any follow-up. I felt I had a many year relationshp with the little girl. I sent her toys and clothes and even, one year, a birthday cake (fruitcake, so it would make the trip and still be good) with "Happy birthday" written in Korean on it (a student at UC Berkeley's Physics Department was from Korea and wrote it down for me).

But I never heard from or about her again. Nor was there any explanation or apology from Foster Parents Plan, so it kind of soured me on the program. I realize that the whole point of it was to help the child, but when you interact, however superficially, with a child for many years, you'd like at least to be able to say goodbye.

So when I decided to sponsort another child, I went with Christian Children's Fund. Over the years we sponsored several children through CCF, but I don't remember any of them now. Mostly the sponsorships were ended by me, when we didn't have enough money to pay the monthly fee. Nobody in the family really seemed much interested in the project anyway, which was a disappointment. The kids were getting old enough that they could participate in writing to the current sponsored child, but that never happened. Eventually, we turned to other things.

The "other things" turned out to be sponsoring the other end of the financial spectrum, the foreign students who came through town on their "home stays," some for 3 weeks, some for much longer. It was only the rich families who could afford to send their kids, as a rule, but we kept them without any remuneration to us and it was, a handful of exceptions notwithstanding, a fantastic 10 years for us. I felt we gained far more than we gave (well...except for Riccardo and that nut from Manaus). We learned about other cultures, other languages, other foods. We made friends, some of whom are still friends today, 20 years after we first began the program.

I always thought during those years that this was the way to create world peace, by getting small groups of people from differing cultures together, one on one. How could we ever, for example, go to war with Japan again when there was such love on both sides of the ocean for the families and friends that had been made during the many, many exchange programs which bring Japanese exchange students to this country, and host American exchange students in Japan?

There were "down years" after The Experiment in International Living" when I was working and putting my efforts into various jobs and didn't think much about international relations.

Somewhere in there came the SPCA and fostering all these dogs we've had trotting through our lives, a project which continues (though not at the moment; it's weird to have only our own two dogs with us right now!)

Then, through Al Gore, I found Kiva, a group which makes loans in the amount of $25 to people in developing countries. They keep the loans small so that more donors can participate. When the loans are repaid, you can either take the money back, or choose to loan to another person. We've now made 9 loans and some are already fully repaid. We helped to fund a grocery store in Paraguay, a retail store in Benin, a general store in Azerbaijan, a movie, tape and DVD business in Bolivia, a clothing store in Nigeria, a carpenter in Ghana, a clothing and dressmaking business in Tajikistan, a food production group in Pakistan, and a farmer in Azerbaijan. It's a great program and the fact that sometimes there is a lack of loan applicants is a testament to the desire of people like me, who aren't rich, to help someone who doesn't have much and give him or her a leg up so that he or she can become self-sustaining. The old "give a man a fish and he'll eat for the day; teach him to fish and he'll eat for life" bit.

But then I started reading through Compassion International's web site and seeing all those kids who are waiting for sponsorship. I have to admit that the missionary aspect of these organizations bothers me a little bit, but missionaries are generally the only people who end up improving the lives of the people to whom they minister, so I'm more inclined not to focus on the religious statements..

Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.

Founded by the Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952, Compassion began providing Korean War orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training.

Today, Compassion helps more than 1 million children in 25 countries.

...and concentrate more on how many kids they've helped and for how many years they have been in business....and that one child that I could help.

As I looked through the pictures, all of them endearing, I kept coming back to one, a little girl who had been waiting for a sponsor for more than 6 months. I finally decided to bite the bullet and sponsor her. Her name is Medam Anjali (first name printed second). She is almost 7 years old and lives with her mother, father and 2 siblings (it doesn't say if they are boys or girls) on the plains of Nandyl, an area of about 320,000 residents, in India. I have just sent the first introductory letter (they send you a form with about ten lines on it...can you imagine me limiting my correspondence to TEN LINES??? and decorated it with stickers I had made a couple of years ago, of the family and dogs.

But it's been a whole week since I sent it. I think it's time to write another one, don't you? I think I'll send her the photo of Lizzie jumping up on the front window and tell her about our crazy dog.

I recently did an interview with a playwright who has co-authored a play called "Rose Colored Glass." It's about an Irish woman and a Jewish woman in Chicago, neighbors who never spoke to one another, until he Irish woman's granddaughter got them to help her bring a young Jewish boy over to the United States to save him from the concentration camps (I will be reviewing this play this weekend).

This is from the article I wrote about her:

"To them, probably, the other 6 million are an abstract concept.

"But when you come down to that one boy — a boy for whom you're making a jacket, and finding a job, and getting a visa — it becomes very personal.

"I don't know what 6 million means," Bigelow admitted.

"But people can grasp one person."

It's difficult to comprehend the vastness of the plight of people around the world. Thinking about how much need there is makes you feel helpless (unless you're Oprah, Madonna, or Angelina Jolie!). But everyone can relate to the woman trying to sell DVDs in Bolivia so she can help feed her family, or a little girl in India waiting for some "rich American" to sponsor her.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


You know someone has to have been important when the city police suspend parking violations downtown on the day of his memorial.

Davis has these weird parking rules and I hate them. Like many towns, there are areas where you can only park for 2 hours, but in Davis, after 2 hours you can't repark your car in the same block. You can't just move your car two slots down, you have to go to a whole different block. This does great things for the other city policy of encouraging promotion of local business. There is no on-street parking where you can have lunch and then wander the shops without moving your car at least once. There is no time limit long enough to permit you to see a movie, unless you go to the parking garage. I almost never go downtown any more, and the parking regulations are a big part of that.

Of course the plan is to encourage less car and more bike, but there are some of us who can't ride a bike (any more) and have to drive. And besides--how much big stuff can you carry on a bike anyway?

So when I heard that the city had suspended ticketing for parking on the day of Dick Brunelle's memorial because (a) so many people were expected to attend the service, which were being held in the church in the middle of the downtown area, and (b) the service and the reception afterwards would certainly exceed two hours, I realized (even if I hadn't before) the unofficial honor that was being bestowed on this man by the city of Davis and the acknowledgement of his importance to the community.

I decided I wanted to be sure to get both a parking place and a seat in the church, so I headed downtown around 2 for the 4 p.m. service. I had some meatballs to drop off at the parish hall and stuck around to help set up the food tables, since I had time to kill.

One woman, whom I hadn't seen in, like. forever and she hugged me and said "It's been so long since I've seen you!" I told her that I thought both of us would say that many, many times before the end of the event!

There was a neat display of pictures and memorabilia and I got a bit of a clutch in my stomach when I saw this collection:

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This is a collage of the jazz choir's first trip to a competition in New Orleans. I took most of these photos and the picture at the lower left is one of my very favorite pictures of David, singing on the streets of the French Quarter with his friend Jeff and one of the street performers who live in New Orleans. Since this was also the 13th anniversary of David's death, the picture hit me more than it might have ordinarily.

Ned was running around the place with videographer Tom Estes, trying to set up a video/audio feed from the church to the hall to take care of the people who couldn't get into the church. Watching how hard he was working, I just had this wave of pride wash over me. If you need someone to set up a sound and/or video system for you, Ned's your guy.

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Around 3 p.m., I went over to the church and found myself a nice little corner of the back pew and set myself up there. I was going to read my book, but Paul's old boss, Bob Bowen, came in and sat with me and we had a nice visit. As people began to arrive at the church, I realized that probably everybody I had ever met, or at least had ever met when our kids were in school in Davis, was at this event. I sat with Bob and his wife, with Mike Gerrell, who ran the Vets when our kids first started working there and who has been their friend for decades, and with Libbie and Dave Burmester, the founder of Acme Theatre Company and our kids' high school English teacher. In front of me was Gary Matteson from the Davis Comic Opera Company, whose members were scattered all around the church. There were friends from PTA and other community groups I've worked with over the years. My Scrabble buddy Joan and her husband waved as they passed by. Two women I worked with at Women's Health were there. The psychiatrist's wife gave me a hug as she came into the church. Some kids who had been in the jazz choir with David (and possibly Tom) said hello. We were all older, many of us fatter and greyer, but we were all there to celebrate Dick's life.

It was the sort of gathering Walt would have just eaten up and I knew it was killing him to miss it.

I made a very short (2+ minutes) video, but as a video it's terrible because I'm not bold (or rude) enough to elbow my way into where I can get the best shot. What I wanted wasn't really the video anyway, but the audio and there is an excerpt from one hymn where they combined anybody in the audience who had ever sung the song in choir with Dick. There were Madrigals in their madrigal garb, and church choir members in robes, and then people who got up out of the audience to join their voices with the rest. It was amazing. There is also the finale, "When the Saints Go Marching In," which was accompanied Dick's two sons and his grandson and Mark Inouye, first chair trumpet with the San Francisco Symphony, who is also a Davis High graduate. There isn't much to see in the video, but the music is glorious.

The ceremony itself was a nice mix of music and memories. Seven people gave reminiscences, his cousin who remembered when Dick lived in a hotel with his mother, at age 5, and tried to teach himself piano and drove people so crazy they had to limit him to only 2 hrs a day at the piano. He also talked about when Dick learned that if he played music in the barn in the morning when he was milking the cows, they would come in on their own and he wouldn't have to chase them. Another friend talked about the antics that went on when he and Dick had been in a band together in college. Another guy talked about Dick's military career, Stephen Peithman talked about Dick's history with the Davis Comic Opera (even including reference to me, when he talked about our award-winning musical, The Pirates of the Casablanca). Judy Gabor read one of the letters she wrote to him from time to time. His grandson read some collective memories from the family and his daughter-in-law, clearly overwhelmed at having to speak to such a huge group, gave a very heartfelt speech about how much he welcomed her into the family.

After all the concerns about having enough food, vs. having too much food, it seemed that there was just enough, as I figured there would be. And people had such a good time reconnecting again.

I invited Ned and Marta to go to dinner with me, but they had other plans, so I took my self back to Osaka Sushi for the traditional "memorial day" dinner. In recent years Walt and I have gotten away from having macaroni and cheese on David's anniversary, and going out for dinner instead.

Somehow it wasn't the same, going out alone.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Says You x3, Up with a Twist

How do you soften the realization that it is the 13th anniversary of your youngest child's death? And that you are spending the afternoon at a memorial service for your children's beloved teacher?

You concentrate on remembering the day before, of course, and the third day of taping of Says You shows.

On Sunday morning I woke up having finally had a full night of sleep, knowing that Lester was safe at home in Boston, and that I had plenty of time to get to San Francisco for the final day of taping Says You shows.

Char was going to attend this taping session with me and I made arrangements to meet her at the Lafayette BART station. We decided to go in to the City early because it was also the day of the running of the Bay to Breakers race and lord only knows what traffic would be like. It actually wasn't bad at all, since the race had been run earlier in the morning. It was parking that was impossible (I told Char they need to hang a sign on the Bay Bridge that San Francisco is closed because all the parking is taken!)

We drove out to Presentation and got there about an hour and a half early. And there was no parking. I wondered where all the rest of the people who would be coming over the next hour were going to park. Char and I took the very last spot within a multi-block area and we walked to the theatre. We were early, of course (actually we were the first people in the audience to arrive) and the two USF girls who were ushers found us chairs so we could sit in the hall while the day's musical group practiced behind the theatre's closed doors.

There is always some local music group which plays for Says You shows. The first night it was a kind of bluegrass/folk sounding group; the second night it was a woodwind quintet. So who knew what the music would be for this taping. But then I heard someone singing "Sempre Libre" from La Traviata and figured they were going with vocal music this time, since San Francisco is such a big opera town. I was enjoying the music and laughing at myself because there I was in the old Lamplighters theatre and could have sworn that the person singing was the Lamplighters' own Jane Hammett, whom I first met when she did Something's Afoot back in 1984, I laughed that I was so out of touch with opera that all sopranos must sound alike to me.

We waited a long time until the house was opened, went to our seats, smack dab in the middle of the theatre and waited for the show to start. Soon, Assoc. Producer Zack Moore came out on stage to tell us the show was about to start and to introduce the day's musical group -- THE LAMPLIGHTERS! Well, six Lamplighters, four of whom were friends of mine! What fun! What a terrific surprise. I sent a quick text message to Walt and settled in to watch the show.

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Musical Director Baker Peeples was at the piano, so he doesn't show in this photo, but yes it WAS Jane Hammett (left) I had heard, as well as Rick Williams, Jonathan Spencer and two newer women I don't know (so don't remember their names).

PoorWandring.jpg (46849 bytes)They treated the audience to a good sampling of G&S at their various moments in the show, including the ubiquitous "Three Little Maids" and the Matter-Matter trio from Ruddygore (which really impressed the audience with its rapid-fire patter). Host Richard Sher was in 7th heaven, stating that he had long wanted to have Gilbert & Sullivan as part of the show. (Whether he really meant it or not, who cares--it was a great line!)

(Jane didn't sing La Traviata, but she did sing "Poor Wand'ring One.")

This was, needless to say, my favorite of the 3 days of tapings -- the marriage of two of the best parts of my entertainment life.

At intermission Char and I went outside to get a breath of fresh air, when Jonathan walked by the door of the theatre and saw me standing by the door to the theatre. I waved and he came out, followed by the other three people who were as surprised to see me there as I was to see them there.

When we left the theatre after the show there was a large group of people gathered outside on the sidewalk. I decided that these were folks who were waiting for someone in their party to go the mile or two away where the car had been stashed and come to pick them up.

On the way to our car we passed a woman in a shocking yellow sparkly cheerleader outfit and later a guy with bunny ears and another guy in some outlandish costume. We figured these were Bay to Breakers stragglers.

[Being in San Francisco on the day of the race, a thought occurred to me that I had never considered before. One of the things about the race is that many people run in the nude (and the city just suspends the laws about public nudity for the day). But...where do they put their clothes? They are running from one side of San Francisco all the way to the other side. And when they get to the end of the race they are 12 km from where they started. And they have no clothes. They certainly don't take BART nude. I don't imagine they hop a bus or a cable car nude. So where do they put the clothes? Inquiring minds want to know. Perhaps a nude runner will read this and let me know.]

In any event, the Sunday taping was the best of the three days, even though by the end of the weekend I had driven around 500 miles and had a minor auto accident on Saturday night. It was all worth it! I just wish Walt had been there with me to enjoy it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Says You x3

We were thrilled several weeks ago when we discovered that Says You was going to be recording in San Francisco for broadcast later. It was the first time the radio show had come to SF and even though we had just gone to two days of tapings (4 shows) in Los Angeles, we couldn't pass up the chance to see it on home turf.

We didn't realize how much "home turf" it was going to be until we checked the web site for ordering tickets and found out that they were going to be at the Presentation Theatre, home of The Lamplighters for some 25 years! Says You and Presentation Theatre too! It was too much happiness.

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We debated about whether we wanted to go to all three tapings ($40 per ticket each), but decided it's only money and we knew we'd have a good time, so we bought tickets for all three days.

Then the difficulties with Walt's mother came up. We figured he'd be back here in time to go to the show, but as the need for him to stay with her grew, we realized he was just going to have to miss it. I asked a couple of people here in town who I knew would enjoy the show if they wanted to go with me, but nobody was free to go. My friend Will Connelly (from the Lamplighters) said he had heard the show a couple of times and thought he liked it and that he could go with me on Saturday. Char said she'd like to come with me on Sunday.

So I went to the show on Friday alone. It was OK because I had my audio book and was looking forward to getting back into it. I allowed 3 hrs to get to SF for the 8 p.m. taping (it's normally an hour and a half drive, but I knew there would be Friday night traffic). Traffic was horrendous (it took an hour just to get to the bridge toll plaza alone) but I figured I was doing OK time-wise because it was still only 7:15. I could easily get out to Pres, find a place to park and get to the show before it started.

As I got to Pres, however, I had this ominous feeling because there was nobody "milling about" in front. I drove around for awhile and finally found a spot that I could just barely squeeze into and pulled out my e-ticket. That's when I found out it started at 7, not 8. as all the LA tapings have done. Sigh. I had missed the first 20 minutes, but I took a chair and put it in the back of the theatre and watched from there. That actually turned out to be a good thing because at intermission, when I went to my "real" seat, I discovered that it was by the radiator, which was blazing hot. I just went back and sat in the chair for the rest of the show.

I had so much emotion watching Says You on that stage I knew so well, sitting in the seats I had been sitting in for years and years. (Though the typical Says You audience DEFINITELY looks different than your typical Gilbert & Sullivan audience!)

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My friend and favorite panelist, Tony Kahn was not there because he is currently undergoing chemotherapy, but his absence gave me the opportunity to finally see the very funny Murray Horwitz (a former Ringling Bros. clown!--I knew Mary would want to know that) who periodically fills in when one or another of the panelists is not able to be there for a taping.

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Horwitz with Panelist Francine Achbar

I even got brave after the show and introduced myself to panelists Arnie Riesman and his wife Paula Lyons, with whom I have had several e-mail exchanges. They were underwhelmed, I'm sure.

I got home from the taping around midnight and sat up until 1:30 writing a journal entry and didn't get to sleep until sometime after 2. Then I got up at 5:30, thinking Phil and Lester might get here around 6 (they actually arrived at 7:15, which, as it turned out, was plenty of time to get to the San Francisco airport and get the dog booked into United baggage).

I hadn't had breakfast yet, so I drove along the beach to the Seal Rock Inn, one of my favorite breakfast places, and had "the perfect" eggs benedict. I was seated by a window and the gentle breeze blew in on me and I could kinda sorta even look at the ocean as I sat there.

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(it's there--trust me, it's there!)

In the meantime I called Will about the show and the fact that it was 7 p.m., not 8. He was singing a concert at the SF Yacht Club in the afternoon, but had thought he could get out to Pres in time for the show, but with the change of time, he now wasn't sure. Just in case he didn't make it, he suggested we meet for dinner at 4 at the yacht club.

I still had time to kill, so I decided to take a walk through Sutro Park, across the street from the restaurant and, if you walk far enough into it, overlooking the beach. I had never been in that park before. Well...I decided I've been reading too many Michael Connelly books. There was a guy standing out in front of the garage at the restaurant. When I crossed the street to take my daily picture, of me in front of one of the park's lions...

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...I looked and he was now across the street just a few feet in front of me. I didn't think anything of it until I walked farther into the park and turned around and saw him now between me and the lion. I had just been listening to a book about abductions from lonely places and I just didn't feel comfortable since there were so few people around. A woman was coming toward me with her dog and I waited until she got closer and then kind of walked out of the park with her. The man had disappeared. I decided to drive to the Marina and get away from possible predators at the beach.

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Well it was a beautiful weather day in the city and everybody in town was out. I literally drove around for two hours (my parking angel had apparently taken a hike) trying to find a parking place anywhere in the vicinity of the yacht club and finally left Will a message that I'd given up and was heading back to Pres.

I drove out to Pres and sat in the car for about 4 hours listening to my current audio book (and actually finishing it).

I finally called Will around 3:45 to make sure he had received my previous message (he had not) and he said he wasn't feeling well anyway and might not come to the show after all.

Serendipitously, there was a woman at the theatre who had come to the show with some friends. The show was sold out and she didn't have a ticket, but was hoping she could get one at the door, so I gave her Will's ticket and then left a message for him that he could now just go home. In one of those "small world" coincidences, a friend of the woman who needed a ticket was also a friend of the guy who had made our the publication of our first Lamplighter history a possibility back all those many years ago!

I had almost no money and after the show had to choose between going home across the Bay Bridge, where I would have a toll to pay eventually, and NOT getting any coffee to keep me awake, or going home across the Golden Gate Bridge, a slightly longer trip, but where I would NOT have a toll to pay, and would thus have enough money to buy an iced Mocha to keep me awake. I took the latter option which would have worked out well if Highway 37, the road that crosses from San Rafael to Vallejo, had been opened, but it was closed for repairs and so I was routed way to hell and gone through Napa. I know the route well, but in the dark I couldn't see landmarks and so it was difficult to know exactly where I was at any time. And it was considerably longer than the straight-through Highway 37 would have been.

By the time I got to I-80, I was really very sleepy and fought sleep all the way along. I was now out of money, so couldn't buy another coffee. I finally got off on the side road before the main Davis exit just because I wasn't feeling safe on the freeway any more. I almost made it home without incident, but apparently fell asleep 3 blocks from home and nearly ran into a light post, though woke up with a start in time to jam on the brakes. I did, however, jump the curb. The shock of that was enough to keep me going the last 3 blocks.

I was so sleepy by the time I hit the front door that I actually went to sleep without writing a journal entry. Now THAT's sleepy!!!

Sunday morning I turned around, got on the freeway and drove back to San Francisco yet again, for the third day of taping. But that day had a nice unexpected twist to it, so I think I'll save that for its own entry, tomorrow or the next day.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Boston's Newest Resident

Lester is in Boston. After all the planning and work that has gone into getting this dog to her forever home, it was a thrill to get a text message from Phil saying "Boston safe and sound" followed, a bit later, by a photo from Jeri

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While things mostly went very smoothly, not entirely! Around 10 p.m. the night before we were going to the airport, I received a text message from Phil that he had just realized that his plane reservation had been for Friday, not Saturday. I can only imagine his panic when he realized that.

Fortunately, he was able to get himself and Lester on a Saturday flight, but it was earlier than the original flight, which meant we had to leave Davis earlier than originally expected. The only problem with that was that I had returned home from San Francisco late the night before (more on that tomorrow) and so when we left for the airport Saturday morning, I was going on about 3 hours sleep. Phil offered to drive, but I told him I could do it just fine.

We got to the airport and I walked Lester around in the parking lot while Phil assembled her crate.

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Phil attached food and water bowls. He had frozen water in her bowl, so she would have water as the flight continued. Smart guy!

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Finally the crate was all put together, Lester was put in the cage, and we were on our way to check-in.

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While Lester wasn't exactly happy to be in the crate and barked a scared bark occasionally as we moved to the elevator and through the airport itself, she really was pretty good over all, as Phil filled out all the forms with airport personnel.

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And just like that she was cleared and Phil was told to accompany her down to baggage before he checked himself in. I gave Lester one last pat through the bars of the cage, I gave Phil a hug and told him to be sure and let me know when they got home and then I returned to the parking lot.

It was about 9 p.m. when I got a text message from Jeri saying "This is a great dog."

Well...of course!

Lester's Big Adventure from Bev Sykes on Vimeo.