Monday, August 31, 2009

Reunions Are Fun

The nice thing about the Europe group was that we genuinely liked each other and so having two reunions instead of just one was just dandy for all of us.

Actually, Jeri had set the date for our reunion shortly after our return. She asked if we could make it August 30, because she would be out here then. Everyone enthusiastically agreed, but then it turned out we couldn't wait that long to see each other again, so Diane and David hosted a reunion a couple of weeks after our return. Several people didn't come to that one because of other commitments and knowing we would have the chance to see each other on the 30th. Today was the 30th and so we gathered at Char's daughter Dana's home and everybody was very happy to see everybody else.

(Jeri pointed out that it was her first anniversary and she was sharing it with us and not with her husband!)

BongoHiggins.jpg (51674 bytes)I had, of course, brought the puppies and everybody was interested in watching me feed them, even the ubiquitous Bongo.

This is Higgins and as I was feeding him, he was pooping out the other end. When I finished feeding him and started to take him to the carrying crate, he did something he had never done before -- he pooped on my foot and on the floor. One of the women offered to hold him while I cleaned up and then he pooped on her! This is the pup who ate so much yesterday he gained 3-1/2 oz, so I think we don't have to worry much about Higgins fading any time soon.

Everybody had brought food to share and I again made my pesto lasagna, which I liked so much in Portofino and had made for Cousins Day. It turned out pretty good and I don't think I'll be making pesto lasagna again in the near future--I may have OD'd by now!

But there was plenty from which to choose.

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People also sat around checking through each other's photo albums...

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...or watching slide shows on one of the two laptop computers or the big screen TV.

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Tavie had put together a card of appreciation for Jennifer, our tour organizer, with input from everybody in the tour troup.

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Char had received an e-mail from our tour guide, Ian Graham, and everybody read that and it sparked a round of "memories of Ian," amidst much laughter.

I remarked at how much better it was tonight than it had been at the pre-trip "getting to know you" dinners, and how much easier it was to talk with everyone, and how genuinely happy we were to see everyone who was able to come to the gathering (I think there were only 2 people who didn't make it).

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It's too bad the trip was so darn expensive. This would be a great group to travel with again, though I think Jeri and I shot our wad with this trip!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Into That Good Night

With all the emotional events surrounding the passing of Ted Kennedy, in the end it was a simple thing, unnoticed by the commentators, that really got me.

As the funeral procession passed slowly through Washington, it rounded a corner. There were police lining the route but there was one lone policeman who snapped to attention and saluted. I looked around at his fellow officers and others on the street, but it was only this one man who saluted. (Later on in the route, several officers did, but this was the first I saw). I found it very moving because it was spontaneous, unscripted, unaccompanied by grand speeches, and just one man's tribute to a man he obviously admired.

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I watched "at," rather than watched the ceremonials surrounding the burial of Senator Kennedy. It seemed that it was 24/7 coverage, when you add in the many specials that were used as fillers between major events. How many times can you watch Chris Matthews' "The Kennedy Brothers"?

It was interesting to see the coffin lying in state in the JFK Library because we were in Boston a couple of years ago and toured the library, so I could picture exactly where it was and could see the unseen portions of the room as I watched mourners pass by to pay their respects. (It's like watching movies filmed in San Francisco -- somehow it means more when you can picture where things are actually taking place.)

I loved the memorial the night before the funeral Mass. That may be the only part that I actually sat and watched, though it went on and on and on...but this was not an event played for the media; it was a good bye party among good friends, friends who had funny stories, moving stories, and music to share. If Orrin Hatch rambled a bit long (making Joe Biden look positively terse), who cared? He was sharing fun stories about his good friend.dodd.jpg (10687 bytes)

Chris Dodd had a wonderful quotable moment: John Kennedy inspired America, Bobby Kennedy challenged America, but Ted Kennedy changed America (or words to that effect).

We learned a lot about Kennedy--well I did. I didn't realize that he painted (apparently quite well). I was moved to hear that he called every family of every Massachusetts person killed on 9/11...and kept in touch with them for years after 2001. He also contacted the family of every Massachusetts soldier killed in Afghanistan or Iraq. Did those things without fanfare and without publicity. I loved the obvious adoration that his kids, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren had for him. He seems to have been a genuinely good man.

How wonderful it must be to have so many friends stand up and say "he was a friend of mine..." How nice to have your friends Yo-Yo Ma, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Placido Domingo lend their considerable talents to your memorial.

But somehow I also noticed who wasn't there. President Obama was there. Former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter were there. Where was George H.W. Bush? I also wondered about Joan Kennedy, the former Mrs. Ted. I checked the internet to find out if she was still alive and the most recent article I found out about her concerned her being found passed out on the streets of some city and the battle with her children who were attempting to become conservators for her, since she was incapable of caring for herself. So sad. The senator's second wife appears to have been wonderful for him. But I feel sad for Joan.

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People were impressed with the number of staffers and former staffers who lined up on the capitol steps as the funeral procession passed by, but I also noticed that some streets were lined with people waiting for the caravan, but only one deep and nobody on the other side of the street.

On MSNBC they had the courtesy to keep commentary to a minimum, except for the long stretches when nothing was happening. We didn't hear a running commentary about the people gathered at each of the venues. And God, in Her infinite wisdom allowed the actual burial ceremonies to take place in the dark, where there was no way cameras could film -- coincidental, of course, but I thought rather nice, giving the family complete privacy for that final private moment.

With all of the accolades and hyperbole and the good will and tears that were shed, I happened across a poll that was taken on some news site and was surprised at the results.

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Sad that after a lifetime of legislative success, 1/3 of the people will always remember Senator Ted Kennedy as the man who was responsible for the death of Mary Jo Kopeckne.

A man of many complexities and, to tell you the truth, tho I cried at all the emotional parts of the day today, I don't really know how I will remember Ted Kennedy. But I suspect that my feeling about the man were significantly shaped by all of the things I learned about him since his death.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Apparently this was the 29th time I have donated blood at Bloodsource in Davis.

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It wasn't the 29th time I'd shown up to donate blood. I have lost count of the many times I have been turned away because of a low hematocrit. Each time I'd watch that little drop of blood sit, stubbornly suspended in the liquid and hear that they would have to run a sample through the centrifuge, and then half the time being told that it didn't quite make the grade. I always miss by just a point, but they send me back to try, try again. They would send me off with a package of oatmeal, and tell me to eat iron-rich foods.

Last time I donated blood, we agreed to set my next appointment two weeks past the date when I was eligible to donate again, figuring that my system needs an additional two weeks to recover.

I also helped it along this time by eating beans, spinach, and oatmeal (not together, of course) over the past week.

Well, it worked. That little drop of blood in the solution sank to the bottom immediately and stayed there and I was good to go.

I've always given blood when I could, starting back when we lived in Berkeley many years ago, before Jeri was born. I gave regularly until I tested positive for HIV. It didn't send me into any panic because I knew about false positives and, of course, a second testing came back negative. But the fact that I'd tested positive once meant I couldn't donate again for several years. I also was not permitted to donate blood for a year or two after I spent a month in Houston helping with my friend Bill, who ultimately died of AIDS, but also had Hepatitis-C.

But I haven't had any limiting factors (other than low hematocrit) for several years now and in the meantime Bloodsource opened a facility very close to our house (and recently moved it even closer to our house), so I didn't have to wait for a blood drive to park a truck somewhere in town, or drive into Sacramento to donate.

I love Bloodsource. Everybody is so friendly. I always go on a Friday morning at 9 a.m., so I watch Regis and Kelly while I'm eating my donut and drinking my water after my donation. Twice they have accidentally squirted blood on me and I got a free t-shirt and a big apology. The facility has the feel of my dentist's office (which I have always described as being like going to the hairdresser), with the casual atmosphere, the joking that goes on, and the patients, many of whom greet each other because they've run into each other here before.

I thought I would try donating platelets once because you can do that every two weeks. I wasn't sure how it all worked, but they remove your blood, strip it of the components they need, and then return it to you. The process takes about an hour (I can fill a bag of whole blood in 10 minutes), but with me they had difficulty getting the blood back in, so we decided I would just stick with whole blood instead of trying to donate platelets.

I really like donating blood. It seems such a simple thing to do, yet we are always being told that the need is great. And, besides, you get a free donut when it's all over!

fatHiggins.jpg (37968 bytes)There is no mistaking Higgins. You can find him in the dark because he's so much bigger than the other puppies. I don't worry too much about Higgins.

But I worry about the others. They are all gaining, they are having normal bodily functions, but having raised so many orphans, I know that a day can make a difference, especially at this young age. Though all four puppies ate very well for two feedings in a row (the mid-night feeding, for some reason, always seems to be the best one), where each took 1-1/2 to 2 oz of formula, when I fed them mid-day, three of them ate well, but Alfie wouldn't open his mouth and seemed a bit "floppy." He just would not wake up. I set about feeding Freddie and having Walt hold Alphie, hoping to get him to wake up. I still couldn't get him to open his mouth and when I finally managed to get it open, he wouldn't suck from the bottle. I managed to get an ounce in him with the good ol' syringe.

This is not the first time this has happened, and usually what happens is that the puppy who wouldn't eat at one feeding chows down at the next one, but not Alfie. I couldn't get him to take anything at the second feeding. I finally had to call Ashley and ask her to come and check him, while we were out reviewing a show.

When we got home, Alfie was gone. Ashley sent a note saying they had given him fluids (they inject it under his skin), but were going to take him home to the mother to see if he would do better. Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Facebook Experiment

I sure hadn't expected to get an ego bump when I posted yet another Facebook quirk. The challenge read:

If you are reading this, even if we don't speak often, post a comment of a memory of you and me. When you've finished, post this paragraph on your own status; you'll be surprised at what people remember about you.

What the heck, I thought. I was very surprised to get a handful of messages right away.

Lynn H
I remember celebrating Grandmother-hood with you by doing a Happy Dance together, long distance! Boy are we good or what!

Lynn is a friend from Flickr. She is also in her third year of doing the "self photo a day" (a project her son started, not realizing how it was going to mushroom!). Lynn takes some of the most inventive self-portraits, particularly her "Me as art" set!

Debra LoGuercio
I remember meeting you sitting across the table from me at a Winters Community Theater production and being glad to be able to put a face to the name!

Debra writes a wonderful column, Because I Say So that appears in the Winters Express and the Davis Enterprise. We've sat together for two different Winters Community Theatre productions now and I always enjoy talking with her.

Welmoed B-S
I remember sitting under a huge weeping willow tree in Hyde Park in London, marvelling at the fact that we had only known eachother via CompuServe, and now we were meeting in real life! Hard to believe that was 14 years ago.

Welmoed is someone I knew from CompuServe and we did, as she says, meet for tea in Hyde Park with our friend Jane, who had been an exchange student living with us. She says our meeting was 14 years ago, but it sure seems like longer ago than that (but I don't doubt her)

Stacy Lynn C
I remember all the wonderful tasty cakes you made for me and all my friends in our younger days in Davis!

I really don't remember making cakes for Stacy or her friends, but in the days when our kids were in school, it seemed that I was making cakes for EVERYBODY, so I'm sure she's right.

Stacy B
I remember the first time that Tater and Tot came to placement at Petco and someone was coming to see them. The person approached me, introduced themselves, and said that they were there to see them. In one of my less-proud moments, I pointed in their general direction and said, "Oh yeah... they're the ones over there that kind of look like oversized potatoes."

Stacy works with Ashley and so, like Ashley she shows up at our house from time to time with either a dog to drop off or a dog to pick up...or to help with some problem I'm having with the current in-house dog.

Kari P
i remember you worked at the secretariet on G street and typed my first post-college-looking-for-a-job resume on a funny typewriter that had an electronic window that displayed a single stream of text (early wordprocessor), and that you were really fast and patient and turned my draft resume into something very professional. and i got the tennis teacher job with the city of davis!

Boy, the things you don't remember! Kari is the person who got me onto the board of the Davis Community Network, but I didn't realize that I had typed a resume for her when I was at The Secretariat, way back in the 1970s!

Jan H
I remember the photo of the lamingtons you made for Australia Day a few years ago. I also remember how you spoke to my friend Gloria on the phone when she was in the US and had lost Mary and Mary's MUM within days of one another.

Jan is someone else I know from the Internet, but have never met. I had totally forgotten about her friend Gloria, and this comment she wrote reminded me to ask her how Gloria is doing.

Joan C
Well, of course, Scrabble on-line and BBB's!

This one is self-explanatory--except for the BBB, which even I couldn't was "Bush Bashing Breakfasts" with our friend Nancy. (We've had to change the name since Obama was elected and Bush went into hiding!)

Mara T
You, my mom, and Mr. Brunelle in a hotel room in New Orleans after we'd been caught in a bar on Bourbon Street...

Boy do I remember that! It must be said that this particular group of students were all old enough to drink legally in New Orleans (where the drinking age was 18), but the group had been told that even though they could, they were not permitted to by school rules. I will say that my ability to cry on command was VERY useful in dealing with that situation, since I was the one who found them standing outside the bar, drinking a Hurricane!

Mike G
Beer butt chicken in a Houston back yard.

This was for my friend Lynn's (the one who was just here recently) surprise birthday party. She had met Mike the previous time I was in Houston, so we invited him to come to the party, at which her son BBQ'd the famous beer butt chicken.

Karen M-C
We met at DG's house, didn't we? To discuss ways of helping him promote his website when it was in a new and infantile state? Sean was still a kid, and I think Michael and I were still living in Alhambra, so it's been AWHILE!

A lifetime ago. Karen was the first person I ever met after whom a planet was named. The planet Malcor, in the Star Trek world, was named for her. Together we helped sci fi author David Gerrold design his web site. Karen raises Arabian horses and my most vivid memory (other than one of her horses playing with a child's swimming pool, tossing it into the air)...

Boplay1111.jpg (30600 bytes) of one of that same horse in the house watching "The Black Stallion" on TV. (He really did it, too! Karen said he ignored the TV until the horse came on and then he watched intently!)

Pat P
When you and I and Cathy met for the first time in Santa Barbara after getting to know each other on CompuServe (is CIS still around?). Photos show all three of us wearing huge glasses.

I remember that. I can't remember how long ago it was, but about 20 years ago. We all felt very brave, meeting each other face to face. Now the CompuServe discussion forums are gone, but Pat, Cathy, myself and several others continue to remain close friends (though separated by oceans, some of us) through Yahoo groups!

Mary W
I think the first time I met you in person was on the train ride from hell. We spent a day in SF and you came in to meet us. Danny was just a little boy, riding on my back. It was a cold foggy day (surprise!) and you very politely didn't comment on our goosebumps.

Actually I remember a lot of things with you over various visits to SF. The time you drove Tricia and me up to Twin Peaks. Standing on the top of Fort Point watching the currents. Eating that divine tofu sandwich at Greens. I'm thinking I need to come back!

Mary is another member of the CompuServe group and, since she is one of the younger ones, I kind of feel like she's the second daughter I never had (and am sorry that my attempts to get her and Jeri together sometime have all failed, since Mary, too, is the oldest sister with four younger brothers--and I know they would have much to talk about!). Tricia, too, is part of the group, but lives closer to me, so Mary flies to see Tricia and they drive to meet me in San Francisco--at least that's how it's happened a couple of times now.

Toni B
Exchanging glances with you as we watched with such affection the way Dick Brunelle sat so proudly on the bus in New Orleans with the huge winner's trophy occupying the seat next to him.

Mother of Mara, above--same New Orleans trip. Yes, watching teacher Dick Brunelle with his trophy was worth everything we went through on that trip!

This really was a fun exercise and brought up a lot of memories of things I hadn't thought about in years--or things I had forgotten. I had such a good time on Facebook, I'll put the same suggestion to people reading this entry--post a comment about a memory of you and me, whether we've met or not. And then, fellow bloggers, try doing this on your own blogs and see if you're as pleasantly surprised as I have been!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Annoying Facebookers

According to a CNN article, here are the 12 most annoying types of Facebookers. I figure I'm about half of them.:

The Let-Me-Tell-You-Every-Detail-of-My-Day Bore. "I'm waking up." "I had Wheaties for breakfast." "I'm bored at work." "I'm stuck in traffic." You're kidding! How fascinating! No moment is too mundane for some people to broadcast unsolicited to the world. Just because you have 432 Facebook friends doesn't mean we all want to know when you're waiting for the bus.

The Self-Promoter. OK, so we've probably all posted at least once about some achievement. And sure, maybe your friends really do want to read the fascinating article you wrote about beet farming. But when almost EVERY update is a link to your blog, your poetry reading, your 10k results or your art show, you sound like a bragger or a self-centered careerist.

The Friend-Padder. The average Facebook user has 120 friends on the site. Schmoozers and social butterflies -- you know, the ones who make lifelong pals on the subway -- might reasonably have 300 or 400. But 1,000 "friends?" Unless you're George Clooney or just won the lottery, no one has that many. That's just showing off.

The Town Crier. "Michael Jackson is dead!!!" You heard it from me first! Me, and the 213,000 other people who all saw it on TMZ. These Matt Drudge wannabes are the reason many of us learn of breaking news not from TV or news sites but from online social networks. In their rush to trumpet the news, these people also spread rumors, half-truths and innuendo. No, Jeff Goldblum did not plunge to his death from a New Zealand cliff.

The TMIer. "Brad is heading to Walgreens to buy something for these pesky hemorrhoids." Boundaries of privacy and decorum don't seem to exist for these too-much-information updaters, who unabashedly offer up details about their sex lives, marital troubles and bodily functions. Thanks for sharing.

The Bad Grammarian. "So sad about Fara Fauset but Im so gladd its friday yippe". Yes, I know the punctuation rules are different in the digital world. And, no, no one likes a spelling-Nazi schoolmarm. But you sound like a moron.

The Sympathy-Baiter. "Barbara is feeling sad today." "Man, am I glad that's over." "Jim could really use some good news about now." Like anglers hunting for fish, these sad sacks cast out their hooks -- baited with vague tales of woe -- in the hopes of landing concerned responses. Genuine bad news is one thing, but these manipulative posts are just pleas for attention.

The Lurker. The Peeping Toms of Facebook, these voyeurs are too cautious, or maybe too lazy, to update their status or write on your wall. But once in a while, you'll be talking to them and they'll mention something you posted, so you know they're on your page, hiding in the shadows. It's just a little creepy.

The Crank. These curmudgeons, like the trolls who spew hate in blog comments, never met something they couldn't complain about. "Carl isn't really that impressed with idiots who don't realize how idiotic they are." [Actual status update.] Keep spreading the love.

The Paparazzo. Ever visit your Facebook page and discover that someone's posted a photo of you from last weekend's party -- a photo you didn't authorize and haven't even seen? You'd really rather not have to explain to your mom why you were leering like a drunken hyena and French-kissing a bottle of Jagermeister.

The Maddening Obscurist. "If not now then when?" "You'll see..." "Grist for the mill." "John is, small world." "Dave thought he was immune, but no. No, he is not." [Actual status updates, all.] Sorry, but you're not being mysterious -- just nonsensical.

The Chronic Inviter. "Support my cause. Sign my petition. Play Mafia Wars with me. Which 'Star Trek' character are you? Here are the 'Top 5 cars I have personally owned.' Here are '25 Things About Me.' Here's a drink. What drink are you? We're related! I took the 'What President Are You?' quiz and found out I'm Millard Fillmore! What president are you?"

The way I figure it, Facebook is all things to all people and we've all done these sorts of things from time to time (except I refuse to be the "bad grammarian"!) Some people obviously like each one of these things, others hate them, most of us have learned how to use Facebook so that we get what we want out of it and don't run off screaming when we get another invitation to join the "Save the Beanie Babies" Society or sign a petition that declares that Facebook people think Rush Limbaugh is a jerk.

What is Facebook to me?

* It's a way to try to be clever in a terse little status update. Twitter does the same thing (with fewer characters), but I don't find a way to create a sense of "community" on Twitter. I love trying to find a funny way of saying something mundane. Ned is the master of this, as are others. How can you resist a status that read "dry underwear is underrated."

* It's a place to connect with people I care about. In the beginning, I friended everybody who asked because I didn't know a soul on FB, but I now have nearly 700 "friends" and it is unwieldy, so I have set them into groups and I only check the groups that I'm interested in and ignore the rest. In the past 2 years, more of my real life friends have sauntered into Facebook, so why should I bother about Jane Doe from a place I've never visited and whom I am not likely to meet (and with whom I have nothing in common), but who has been on my friend list for 2 years, when I can check out an old school buddy I haven't seen in years and get acquainted with her family? But I don't want to be rude and "un-friend" poor Jane Doe. It might hurt her feelings.

* It's a place to play the games I like to play. It's not my fault that FB chooses to announce every single game that I play. I don't need to have it all posted to my newsfeed, but I can't control Facebook.

Some of the annoying traits above are, I suspect, because people haven't learned how to use the system. I see "Obscurists" all the time, who mean to write personal notes to someone and don't realize that anything put on a wall gets posted into a newsfeed, or someone who doesn't respond to a comment but merely posts a new comment in response to the one above it, not realizing that when it appears on a newsfeed total strangers who read it aren't going to be able to see it in context. I forgive them that because we all at one time were newbies. (I did, however, once write to a friend to let her know that her very personal interaction with another friend about a third friend was visible to the entire Facebook community and to tell her the difference between "wall" and "email"!)

I also get tired of the "Chronic Inviters," and 99% of the time ignore all invitations, but occasionally I find something really fun to try, so I put up with the flood of invites. It's a question of sorting the wheat from the chaff. I try to hit "skip" whenever some application wants me to invite all of my friends to join me in doing...whatever.

The secret of Facebook, if you are going to get any enjoyment about of it, is to find out how you can manipulate it for you and just ignore the rest. It doesn't take more than a fraction of a second to hit the "ignore" button or the scroll bar. I'd rather do that than bitch about how other people we have chosen to friend choose to get enjoyment out of it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Last Supper

It's Ned's birthday! (Actually the 25th is Ned's birthday and I'm writing this on the 25th, even though it's dated the 26th.)

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Marta mentioned on Facebook a couple of days agoa that La Esperanza restaurant was closing. La Esperanza is in the University Mall, about 3/4 of a mile from our house. The first restaurant in the location was The Good Earth (which made the best spiced tea), where Tom worked as a waiter and got his introduction to food service. He later went on to become the manager, younger than most of the employees. He learned a lot in that job.

But The Good Earth eventually closed and La Esperanza moved in. We used to eat there a lot when I was working in the medical complex which was practically next door. As Mexican restaurants go, it wasn't great, but decent--and they have some of the best chips. I suggested to Marta that we go there to eat for Ned's birthday, since the place is closing its doors forever at the end of the week.

We were going to be meeting at 8 p.m. and I figured I'd feed the puppies when we got home, but at 7:35, the puppies all woke up, crying (this is the first time since they got here that they all clamored to be fed at once). I knew I couldn't get them all fed in time, so suggested to Walt that he take his bike and I'd meet him up there.

When I finished feeding the puppies (they ALL ate well, without any problem at all, for the first time), I drove up to the restaurant...and Walt wasn't there. I didn't know where he was and, since I had left my cell phone at home, I couldn't call him to find out.

When Ned and Marta arrived, I asked Ned to call his father, which he did.

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It turns out that Walt thought we were goint to a different restaurant, halfway across town and it took him 20 minutes to get to La Esperanza on his bike!

It was a small group that gathered around the table enjoying our last meal at La Esperanza.

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Ned removed his two front teeth to eat his dinner and his sister-in-law showed a photo of her own daughter's toothless state (this is my favorite picture of the night,BTW)

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Several people also took out cell phones to look at the pictures and videos that Jeri and Phil have been sending as they are driving across the country.

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It was a bittersweet moment when we stood at the check-out desk to pay our bill.

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We had just enjoyed our last "sombrerito" at La Esperanza. It was a nice meal, but sad that another Davis institution is losing its doors.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

It was going to be a wonderful lunch. We'd been planning it for about three weeks. Sandy was going to be in town and thought she, Maureen, Judy and I could get together for lunch. The women are former classmates of mine from grammar school and we haven't seen each other (or had contact with each other) in over 50 years.

Long-time readers of this journal will remember that I have several times bemoaned the loss of contact with Judy, who was my best friend in grammar school, and then my delight a couple of years ago when I was able to get her phone number and talked with her for awhile. But we still hadn't managed to get together face to face.

It was a really great lunch, despite everything, but things started going wrong a couple of days ago. First, Walt, who had a dental appointment scheduled in Berkeley on Wednesday got a call from his dentist asking if they could switch him to Monday. We only have one car, so this meant that he would have to go to Berkeley on the train, which he doesn't mind. But it also meant that there would be nobody to watch the puppies. No problem--I would take them with me.

Then, the day before the lunch, Maureen wrote to say that her doctor had diagnosed her with bronchitis, said she was contagious, and ordered her to rest for the next several days, so she had to cancel. But the rest of us decided to soldier on anyway.

The puppies didn't cooperate. They've been eating around midnight, and then again around 8 a.m., but instead they woke up, hungry at 4 a.m. Which meant it was too soon to feed them before I left, but I packed them up and decided I would feed them at my mother's before I went to the restaurant in Sausalito.

I didn't count on the traffic. Which. was. awful. I literally went 10 mph or less for about 30 minutes--it may have been longer. Things eventually loosened up, but it meant that I didn't get to my mother's until 11--and I had to meet the others at the restaurant, 20-25 minutes away, at 11:30. The puppies were all still sleeping, so I decided they could eat a little late and just left them in the carrier and raced to Sausalito.

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The Spinnaker is one of my favorite restaurants. Perched out over the bay, it commands a gorgeous view of San Francisco. Unfortunately, not today...

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I was the first one to arrive and I called my mother (who had not been home when I dropped the puppies off) to let her know that if they whimpered she should just leave them alone and to promise I would rush home to feed them.

Judy was the first to arrive, with Sandy shortly after and then it didn't matter whether the view was spectacular or just "somewhere out there." It didn't matter that puppies hadn't been fed or that I'd spent so much time in traffic. It mattered that Maureen wasn't there, but we managed to get through it. We were instantly back in grammar school, remembering classmates, updating each other on what we knew about other people we hadn't seen in 50+ years. We compared notes on our respective families and what we'd been doing for the past five decades. We shared photos of our kids and grandkids (though I'd left my iTouch with all the photos I wanted to share on it--I shared a photo of Bri with Tom and Jeri and that's about it!)

Sandy, who had, with Maureen and another classmate, organized a grammar school reunion three years ago, for our 50th anniversary, talked about the people who had come and conversations they'd had with people who were unable to come (neither Judy nor I had attended).

We found out which of our classmates are no longer with us and reminisced about teachers, classes, and endless processions in the Church. Judy, who was the only one who had brought photos from when we were in school together, brought out pictures of our Brownie and Girl Scout days, our graduation, a school play, a birthday party, and the Halloween party held at my house (which my father, forever after, always brought up when he was angry with me because somehow he never felt I was grateful enough for the work he put in on that party).

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We sat at the table for 2 hours, over a delicious crab louis salad while the restaurant filled up. The waiter was very understanding. We finally looked up and realized that they probably needed our table, so we moved to the lounge area where we continued the visit. We didn't stop chatting from start to finish. We decided we really need to have another get together, perhaps with others in our class. And definitely with Maureen next time!

I looked at my cell phone (which substitutes for a wristwatch) and realized it was after 2. I was acutely aware that the puppies had not eaten since 8 a.m. and though I could easily and happily have stayed there chatting for another hour or so, I had to tell the women goodbye and race to my mother's. The puppies seemed to be handling starvation nicely :). I quickly fixed two bottles, gave my mother one and Higgins (the easiest to feed) and let her feed him while I fed Alfie (the hardest eater, who gulped the formula down quickly!) and shared with my mother all the happenings at the Spinnaker.

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(I added this photo to show my classmates what a
90 year old woman looks like!)

With all four puppies fed, I packed the puppies back up in the carrier again and headed for home, hoping to get ahead of rush hour traffic (fortunately, I did).

What a great day it was. I'm hoping that maybe I can get together with Maureen and maybe some others before Sandy comes back to San Francisco a year from now. This is the third gathering of old friends I've had this month and it's just such fun!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mother of Invention

This is a strange group of puppies and they are forcing me to be inventive.

I worried about them at first because though they took to the doll sized baby bottle well enough, they only seemed to be taking 1/2 an oz at a feeding for the first few feedings and for their size, I thought they should be taking more. I had a bottle with a regular size nipple, but it seemed so big for their mouths.

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But then I thought about how they like to suck on my finger, which is even bigger, so I decided to try it. Well, you'd have thought Higgins and Freddie had never eaten before. I normally mix 1 Tbsp of powdered formula with 2 Tbsp of water to feed all four, but given the size of the bigger bottle, I made up 2 Tbsp of formula and between them Higgins and Freddie completely finished it.

I whipped up another Tbsp of formula and tried the other two. Eliza thought it was a terrible idea, but she did take a little formula. Alfie resolutely kept his jaws so tightly clenched I couldn't pry them open (giving me no doubt about the fact that there is either pit bull or boxer in him--or both!) I managed to use the syringe for Alfie and got him to take a little bit.

The next feeding went pretty much the same, except I started with 3 Tbsp of formula and by now Eliza was doing better with the larger nipple.

But things never go smoothly with puppies. What they learn one day, they completely forget the next. I was ready to suggest to Ashley that we trade Alfie for a puppy that might take to the bottle better, since the mother was still nursing the other puppies, when Alfie suddenly glomed onto the bottle and drank about 2 oz of formula.

But Eliza wouldn't take it at all. I had to go back to the little bottle and she took 1/2 oz of that. And Freddie, who started out as my best eater, also wouldn't take the bottle he seemed to bond with so well the previous feeding. I decided that maybe he'd had so much the previous feeding he just wasn't hungry, so I didn't force it.

We went off to SF and Ashley came to feed them. She reported that Eliza was the best eater and that Higgins had also eaten well (so far Higgins is the only pup who as eaten just fine at every single feeding). Freddie and Alfie didn't eat well at all and I even tried the syringe to get some food into them.

We have evolved into my starting with the large bottle and feeding whoever will take it (I always start with Higgins, because I know there won't be a problem with him). Then when I get one that won't take the larger nipple, I switch to the smaller bottle and kind of squirt the formula from the bottle into the mouth, if they will latch onto that small nipple. But Alfie acted like I was trying to poison him today, so I let him suck on the pad of my finger (where it connects with my palm) and while he was sucking that, I slowly squeezed formula out of the little bottle and dripped it onto my finger and he got about an ounce of formula (I hope) that way.

It seems different with every feeding, and I've started keeping a record of morning weights, just to make sure they aren't losing weight. I weighed them when they arrived, but don't remember if I weighed them before or after I fed them. Then they were:

Higgins: 10 oz Eliza: 8.5 oz Alfie: 12 oz Freddie: 9 oz

I weighed them all this morning before I fed each of them and today will be the real starting day. They weighed:

Higgins: 12.5 oz Eliza: 10.5 oz Alfie: 11 oz Freddie: 9 oz

I would be concerned about Alfie and Freddie, especially since they are (today) the two most difficult to feed, but as I say, I can't remember if the first weights were before or after eating, so it will be the weights I record each morning from here on that will be the accurate ones.

Tomorrow I have a date for lunch in the Bay Area, but I will feed them before I leave, pack them in a travel crate, take them to my mother's, go to lunch, and feed them when I get back. That way they will be eating at about the same time as usual. I will also bring the large bottle, the small bottle, and the syringe just to make sure I have something for everyone in order to get some food in all of them!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Don't Do Things So You Can

There is a web site I follow called "I Do Things So You Don't Have To." It can be kind of funny. Some of her recent entries include: "I Help the Masses," "I have Brilliant Ideas" and "I Buy Quisp".

I decided that I would be better writing a "I DON'T do things so you can" type of entry.

I got this idea when I was with my mother the other day. She was talking about her recent hair appointment and out of curiosity I asked her when the last time was that she actually washed her own hair. She said it was about 3-5 years ago, when her hairdresser went on vacation for two weeks. She hasn't washed her own hair in at least three years!!! Each time she goes to a hair appointment, it's at least $25 (unless she gets a permanent), so she's paying at least $100 a month for getting her hair washed (and set and styled).

If I go to Supercuts ($12) three times a year, that's a lot. I should go three times, but I keep putting it off until my hair gets so long I can't stand it any more. A couple times I went to a hair stylist and paid the $40 (he gave me a discount because I'm a friend of Ellen and Shelly) and then felt guilty because I'd spent so much.

There are a lot of things that normal women do on a regular basis that I don't.

My mother loves shoes, for example and has over 50 pairs in her closet. Granted she usually gets them at the thrift shop where she works, but I know people who love shoes and are always buying a new pair. The only reason I'm in "new" (bought ~3 years ago) Berkinstocks is because (a) a puppy ate the toe out of the pair I had been wearing for twenty years and (b) Lynn decided she wanted to buy something for me.. I also have walking shoes that have also been used as a doggie teething ring. I remember Walt flinching visibly at the $120 price tag when I bought them. I can still lace them up, so I put up with the frayed lining.

But I don't "do" shoe shopping. I don't do "shopping" as a leisure activity at all. I listen to women who plan to go shopping and go out to lunch as a fun thing to do on an afternoon and come home with lots of cute new things. First of all, clothes shopping is a major trauma for me because of my size and the difficulty in finding any thing that fits, much less looks decent. I have a large supply of black pants-- some of them holey with puppy teeth marks--and a lot of t-shirts, which I usually buy on line (as I do the black pants). I could probably shop in a big ladies' store, get somebody to help me find something that would look good and join the "shoppers' brigade," but I just don't.

Besides, what's the point in spending money to look like crap?

I know women who have regular massages and swear by them. I even have a daughter-in-law who is a massage therapist (but who doesn't believe in family discounts!). I've had two massages in my life. One was when Marta needed people to be guinea pigs for a class she was teaching (I lucked out and got her instructor. I was doing physical therapy for my dislocated shoulder at the time and he was absolutely wonderful). The other was a session with Marta, where she also worked on my shoulder. But those "take a day off and relax at the spa" days that I hear women rave about are not part of my experience.

I've also only had two professional manicures and one pedicure in my life. I had a manicure the day before I got married and I went with the group of women who went to the nail salon the day before Walt's sister got married and had a manicure and pedicure then. I have to admit that it felt very good, but I can't justify the expense to do it on a regular basis, though most of the women I know do get their nails done on a regular basis.

I buy no cosmetics whatsoever. No lipstick, no creams, no hair products other than shampoo, no mascara. That part of the store is a mystery to me.

There is a jewelry commercial running with the guy talks the men about buying the woman in their life some diamonds to add to her "jewelry wardrobe." Who knew you were supposed to have a jewelry wardrobe. I used to buy cute earrings, but in the last three or four years, earrings started bothering my ears. I don't have a clue why. I now wear earrings for a month or so, then take a couple of months off and then put earrings back on again. But I don't shop for jewelry. I have a beautiful opal necklace that I wear all the time and I'm happy with that. I'm not someone who will be excited if you buy me jewelry, nor do I shop for jewelry for myself.

People can't believe that I cook dinner almost every night and that we almost never order food to be brought in. Once in a great while one of us will go out to get Chinese food to bring home, but it's been years since we ordered a pizza. I also feel guilty when I splurge on ready made foods that just need to be heated up, since I know I can make it myself for probably less than the price of the ready-made food (and what else do I have to do all day?)

I know people who go to the movies several times a month. If we see four movies in a year in the theatre that's a big movie year! I also know people who can't see a movie without popcorn, candy and a drink. Believe it or not I am able to go two hours without eating! So far this year I have seen four movies, 3 with Walt and Julie and Julia with Rosemarie. We keep seeing movies that we think we'd like to see, but we never actually get to the theatre to see them.

Walt used to give me a hard time for buying "miscellaneous sundries at Longs," which is where I did the bulk of my non-supermarket shopping. Often the "miscellaneous sundries" included toilet paper or cleaning supplies or other things that I had forgotten to pick up at the supermarket. Sometimes they included frivolous things like greeting cards or some sort of doo-dad to try in the kitchen or to organize junk somewhere in the house. My biggest expense was always film, photo developing and printing, which ended abruptly when I got a digital camera in 2000.

But I think all things considered, I don't do too badly in the money spending department. And I make the sacrifice so that there is more of all of that for all of you to enjoy! I hope you appreciate me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stats 'n' Stuff

They now have names.

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The one at the lower left is Higgins. The other brown one is Freddie. The black one at the top is Alfie and the black one in the middle is Eliza. (Can you tell what show we're going to see tomorrow night??)

I always like to have "theme" names for the puppies so they are easier to remember. The groups where I didn't have themes are more difficult to recall. Our first puppies were the West Wing pups (Jed, Leo and Toby). We also had the Christmas pups (who arrived just before Christmas and had one puppy with a red nose!), The Rainbow pups, The Royals (Princess, Diana, Harry and William) and now the MFL pups ("My Fair Lady"). Other groups of puppies all had names, but not group names.

As for all the particulars, Eliza is the smallest and she weighs 8-1/2 oz. I didn't weigh Freddie when I fed him and he may be slightly heftier than Higgins, who weighs 12-1/2 oz.

I mix up 1 Tbsp of formula at feeding time and they take a little over half of that, collectively. Fortunately, all four of them seem to have taken to the bottle quite well. With one or two of them it is a bit of a struggle to get them started, but once they start sucking, they stick with it. Freddie is the bottle champ. They are all quite adept at peeing. Everywhere.

Today they are 4 days old, I think. Someone found the mother wandering the streets of West Sacramento and picked her up. She gave birth to 13 puppies that night. They think Mom is pointer/pit bull and the father may have had boxer in him. So it will be interesting to see what these pups look like as they grow up. I think Eliza is going to be brindle, as her coat, which is dark, seems to have barely noticeable stripes. (But what do I know--I missed a penis in sexing them last night!)

After my Cousins Day entry, several people wrote to ask if I was going to post the recipe for pesto lasagna, so here it is, by popular demand. The recipe on the internet didn't seem to make enough pesto and when Char made it, the lasagna was too dry, so I tweaked it and made my own version. I was very happy with the results!

2 cups fresh basil (about 60 leaves)
2 cloves of garlic
4 Tbsp each grated Parmesan and grated Pecorino (I splurged and bought cheeses I could grate myself rather than buying the stuff I usually get. I think that helped make a big difference)
1 cup "excellent" (the recipe says) olive oil
2/3 cup pine nuts (optional, but I've come to love pine nuts in pesto)
1 lb Barilla lasagna noodles (the kind without curly edges)

Mince all ingredients, except oil and pasta, in food processor, then slowly pour in oil. Put in a bowl because you will add pasta water after the pasta has cooked.

Boil lasagna for about 8 minutes (despite the fact that the box says NOT to boil it. The pesto doesn't have as much liquid in it as regular spaghetti sauce so you need to soften the noodles). Salt the water and add oil to it so sheets won't stick. Remove sheets with slotted spoon and set aside to drain on a clean cloth. Stir 4 Tbsp of pasta water into the pesto (so make sure not to just drain the pasta!)

Melt a dab of butter in a hot serving dish, then lay down a layer of pasta. (If you use a 9x13 dish, you will have to overlap sheets--I used 2 lengthwise and one crosswise per layer). Spread a layer of pesto, sprinkle with grated Parmesan, lay another layer, etc. I used a total of 4 layers, topping with remaining pesto and then more cheese.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, covered with foil. Then remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes.

Serves four.

I served with a green salad and dressing made of equal parts of olive oil and lemon juice, some honey, salt and pepper (Giada di Laurentis was on The Today Show as I was planning the dinner menu !).

Wine suggestion: Vermentino di Ponente, a Ligurian white (or so the Internet says!)

Friday, August 21, 2009

It Wasn't EXACTLY Just a Dream

It was 4 a.m. and I was sleeping on my mother's couch when I was awakened by two things--a mild cramp in my calf and a panic stricken feeling that I had forgotten to feed the puppies.

The first was real--I did have a cramp (though not nearly as bad as the ones I usually get). But the second was a dream. On the drive down to my mother's, I'd received a call from Megan (of the SPCA) saying they had just received mother dog who had given birth to 13 puppies the night before and 13 was too many for her to feed.

Naturally I asked "how many are you sending me?"

There had been bottlefed puppies who came through the SPCA while we were in Europe and I missed out on being able to take any. But now I was getting puppies again. It has been such a long time since I've had newborns. In fact, Tater and Tot (now Lester) were the last two pups I bottlefed, back at the start of the year.

I waited around until about 8, when Jan and her daughter appeared at the front door with a tiny box and its teeny occupants. Jan's daughter said that the smallest of my puppies was 2 oz + something.

MFLSheila.jpg (67669 bytes)There are four of them and they are guesstimating that the mother was German Shorthair Pointer and Pit Bull and since the puppies look like they have boxer in them, they think maybe Dad was a boxer. I don't know what gender my 4 are yet, but will find that out when they wake up and start needing to eat.

The big dogs were intrigued, as always. Lizzie and Sheila have been through this before and I always wonder what goes through their heads every time one of these boxes of little bodies arrives in our house.

I just know that Sheila rolls her eyes and thinks "Oh no--she's done it to me again." Once she's sniffed a couple of times, she kind of goes off on her own and ignores them until they are big enough to be running around and starting to bother her again.

Lizzie, on the other hand, is perennially interested. She kept going back to the cage over and over again and checking it out.

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She always oversees everything that goes on with puppies, from their making noise in the cage to making sure that feeding goes OK (and sneaking into my chair to drink whatever formula is left, if I don't clean it up right away!)

MFLBark.jpg (41553 bytes)As for Barkley, I don't know if he's ever seen puppies, but he certainly was interested, but he's been going ape over the remains of a pig's ear that Ashley brought a week or so ago and so he was more interested in getting back to that.

(The ear was the occasion of much hilarity earlier in the evening. Lizzie got it and was lying on the dog bed chewing it. Barkley was going crazy. He lay on the floor, then he pawed at the dog bed, then he tried to burrow under the bed (perhaps getting it from the bottom?), then he grabbed the edge of the bed and dried to drag it across the floor. Then he would bark. But he wouldn't actually try to take it away from her. When she finally got up, Barkley pounced on it and tried to take it into my lap, but, trust me, a one week old pig's ear chew toy is not the most pleasant smelling thing in the world!)

Anyway, Barkely seems to have forgotten about the puppies as I write this, but they haven't wanted their first feeding yet. I'm hoping they don't wake up soon, because the formula hasn't arrived yet. Trying to teach them how to take a bottle while Barkley is trying to climb into my lap (which I'm sure he will do), is going to be, as Arte Johnson's character used to say on Laugh In... "verrrrrrry interrresting!"

By tomorrow they will all have names

Thursday, August 20, 2009

(Different) Brief Encounters

Cousins Days generally turn out to be either laugh sessions or encounter sessions or like this past one--a combination of both. There were more laughs than "encounters," but enough of an encounter session to set us all thinking.

But mostly there were the laughs.

We got there a little late because Peach and Kathy had an errand to run first, but soon after we'd settled in, I got a text message from Jeri saying "Hi, Cousins!" I responded...

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Jeri were on the road with Lester, headed for California. They hope to be here by the middle of next week.

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We finished our coffee and had lunch, and then started the marathon game of 65, as usual. Before we'd finished the first game, the caterer for my mother's upcoming birthday party showed up to take a tour of the facility where we are having the party.

My god, is the woman who runs the place an idiot. This is the woman who neglected to tell me I needed a security guard, who told me I needed a liquor license (I don't) and yesterday when we asked if there were more round tables available, she said no--just the ones that were out. When we got a key to where all the supplies were kept we found something like seven additional tables.

We had a better idea of what we are dealing with and I'm starting to get excited about the party. I gave her a deposit and she's going to send me a contract to sign.

After a couple of games of 65, Peach, who was in charge of drinks this time around, made Cosmos for us. In lieu of maraschino cherries, she rimmed the glasses with flavored sugar crystals. Yum!

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Amazing how much more open we get with our conversations after we've had a drink or two!

Char had recently sent me a recipe for the pesto lasagna we'd had in Portofino, which we all just loved. She had had some difficulties with it, so based on her experience I made some adjustments to the recipe and mine turned out great. I was glad to have had an experimenter to try it first!

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We had another card game after dinner, then settled in for ice cream cones and soon we were all sleepy. In fact, I dozed off and when I woke up everybody was getting ready to bed and my mother had put out the blanket and pillow for me. It was an early night and I woke up at 4 a.m., with a cramp in my leg and having had a strange dream...but I'll tell that story tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The End of the Season

It's really sad when you reach the point where going to a stage show seems like work.

Summer is always taken up with Music Circus, which opens a new show every week. By the end of the season I have reached the point of dreading Tuesday nights. Something about "having" to go out to the show mid-week, which I just want to hunker down and watch "Jeopardy" and "NCIS" reruns!

The economic times have been evident this season. I can't remember any other season in the 9 years I've been doing this where there wasn't one single opening night that was full. Not only not full, but huge chunks of various sections of the theatre that were empty. Not a single person in the seats.

It wasn't an outstanding season, but it was enjoyable. I always enjoy the shows once we actually get there. It opened with Altar Boyz, an odd choice for an opening show in a year where people are watching their money.

This show is described as 'a new musical about a struggling Christian boy band riding the wave of America's latest fascination with religion,' 'Altar Boyz' is a satirical look at both boy bands and God music. The score offers lyrics such as

Jesus called me on my cell phone;
No roaming charges were incurred.
He told me that I should go out in the world
And spread His glorious word.
He beeped me!
He faxed me!
He e-mailed my soul!

Lots of people left at intermission!

The next show was Guys and Dolls and I expected the house to be fuller--and it was. Slightly. All of the Music Circus shows are professionally acted and so they are worth the high prices (the price isn't printed on my ticket, but I think you pay something like $65 a ticket). I have given bad reviews to a few of the shows over the past nine years, but generally speaking I give pretty good reviews, because they are deserved. I'm not sure why people didn't come out for Guys and Dolls, except perhaps that it is somewhat dated. But then the audience for Music Circus is dated, so this should be the sort of show that would appeal to the masses. This particular show was fun because a friend of ours was in the cast.

Into the Woods was next. Another odd choice in a year when theatre dollars are in short supply. I've seen Into the Woods several times and I have to admit that this was the first time I've stayed awake through the entire thing. It tends to bog down very much, a fault of the show, not necessarily the production. But this production kept me awake, though Walt's headed was bobbing about in parts of it.

Parents think this is probably a great show to take their kids to, and it is--up to intermission. It's every fairy tale you ever knew (well, several of them), and by intermission, they have all played out their stories and the characters look like they're going to live happily ever after. But this is Sondheim and he can't let everybody live happily ever after. Act 2 has infidelity, murder and cannibalism (if a giant eats a human, is that cannibalism?) Best to take the kids to Act 1 and then leave...though at those prices, I don't know how many people can afford to do that!

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was perhaps the best attended of the lot this year. And it was a good production, though my mental image of Adam Pontipee will always be Howard Keel and this guy fell far short of the mark.

Last week's Man of La Mancha was the sixth time I'd reviewed the show since 2002 and I'd reviewed it four times in the past two years. Each of the productions had good and bad things about it, and this was no exceptions. On the whole it was quite good, but there are limitations to doing a big show like this in the round. The ominous feel of the prison in which Cervantes is being held can't really be done as effectively as, for example, the university did it last year. The Aldonza was missing a certain something that I couldn't quite put my finger on. She was no Sophia Loren, for sure.

And that brought us to tonight's show, Cats. I really expected this to be the big time audience draw, but it wasn't as full as it was for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I don't really like Cats, truth be told. I think it's a stupid show with a few good musical numbers. The best thing about Cats for me is the huge unique set, which you can't do in theatre in the round. So right off the bat, this was not the best production for me.

But the singing, dancing and costumes help to make up for not having much scenery to speak of. I really don't like Act 1 at all. It seems like it's trying to establish some sort of cohesion, but it just never does. Act 2 gives up all pretense of doing that and just gives the audience what we used to call when we were writing Lamplighters shows, "pay off numbers." One cat after another featured in single numbers.

And, face it, as long as you have a knock out voice to sing "Memory," people are going to like the show.

Still, when it was all over, I was glad that it was all, and the 2009 Music Circus season.

And now that the "summer season" is at its end, we're going to do something really weird on Saturday...we're going to San Francisco to see the Lamplighters production of My Fair Lady...but this time, if I get bored and/or fall asleep, it's OK, because I don't have to come home and write a review!

(Walt read this and reminded me that the season actually opened with Thoroughly Modern Millie, which was apparently so forgettable that I...forgot it! Not even the live appearance of Carol Channing before the show, and her sitting in the audience for the entire show, was a big enough draw to get people into the theatre!)

Yay...tomorrow is Cousins entry will be late.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


There used to be a lot of teasing of Steve whenever he performed, about his performances being "heartfelt" (a term that was vastly overworked in those days). But today, which began with my mother and ended with Steve, definitely felt "heartfelt" at both ends of the day.

I had a note from Peach recently, telling me that my mother has been having chest pains (my mother was angry that Peach had let me know. I was angry that she had let Peach know and not me!). Peach got her to call Kaiser, and the advice nurse wanted her to go to emergency immediately. My mother, being my mother, said she had too busy a day to go to the hospital and that she wanted to see her own doctor, so instead of rushing to Emergency on Friday, she want to see her own doctor on Monday. Fortunately she didn't die over the weekend (the woman will be the death of me yet!)

Her appointment was for 10:30 and I told her I'd pick her up at 10. At 9:45 she called my cell phone and, calculating where I was and how long it would probably take me to get to her house, I told her I'd be there in 15 minutes, but she decided that wasn't soon enough and she should drive herself. She suggested I just go to the house and wait for her there. Well, I wasn't having any of that! I told her I'd meet her at Kaiser.

Other than getting lost in downtown San Rafael briefly because Kaiser's office building isn't well marked and I had only been there once before (I finally found it purely by accident!), I got there about 5 minutes after my mother did, apparently. They took us about 15 minutes later.

Her blood pressure was a bit high (much lower on second reading--that ol' "white coat hypertension" thing coming into play at the first reading) but the EKG didn't show any indication that she had been having small heart attacks, which was a good thing. They still need to do a stress test to be certain, so that has been ordered and she was given some medication, including nitroglycerine, in case of emergency.

My mother is very put out about all of this. She has never been on medication before and she doesn't want to take any damn pills. She also told the doctor that she hoped they wouldn't schedule her stress test for next week because she had a very busy week and couldn't come in. The doctor told her that her heart was more important than her luncheons.

I do get frustrated with her, but I suspect that at least some of her bluster and irritation at having to take damn pills comes out of a bit of fear and embarrassment. But I told her if she had a heart attack and died before her birthday party, I was going to be royally pissed, so she promised to take her medicines and so what the doctor tells her. For now.

We came home after Kaiser, had some lunch, both took short naps (mine was interrupted by Walt sending a text message), and then had time for one quick game of Canasta before I had to leave.

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(fortunately I was the one who woke up first and I was
the one who had the camera!)

It looked like it was going to be a crushing defeat for me in Canasta, but in the end it was a pretty good game and the final score was pretty close, so I didn't feel bad losing.

CrepeSign.jpg (59331 bytes)Then I drove over to San Francisco, where I was meeting Walt for dinner. He had come down to the city on the train and we were going to go to Steve's concert, "...and I Played John Lennon's Piano," but first we met at the usual crepe place (The Crepe House), where he has dinner with Char and Mike on nights when they all go to the symphony together.

I had been there before several times (actually, we were there once with my mother, Steve, and our friend Amy, who had flown out from New York to see "The Big Voice"), but now that I'm all worldly and stuff, this was the first time that I noticed that the restaurant was painted in the warm Provencal colors that I fell in love with in Arles (though on a foggy day they seemed significantly more muted and tired than what we saw throughout Southern France!)

We each had a crepe that contained crab cakes (my favorite), which were delicious, and then, the hour being early, we "sauntered" back over to the New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC) where we sat and waited for the show to start. For a long time, it was just me and a lobby full of men. Walt may or may not have been the only straight man there. But eventually a couple of other women showed up as well.

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It was, of course, a wonderful show...and quite "heartfelt."

In the first half, Steve sang songs from The Last Session which I hadn't heard in a long time (Walt said it was like riding the car, because I played TLS in the car so often). In the second half of the first act, Jimmy came out and they did numbers from The Big Voice: God or Merman, ending with the amazing "How do you fall back in love?"

For the second half, Steve concentrated on his New World Waking Song Cycle for Peace, with guest artists from the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and ending with "When You Care," from The Last Session, with Jimmy joining the group on stage and making a "heartfelt" speech about his love for Steve and his admiration of Steve's talent.

The New Conservatory Theatre Center is raising money to keep them going and allowing them to present works which will continue to help gay people see themselves in a "normal" light in contrast to all the stuff you see in the media. Just at intermission alone, they raised over $2,000, with another $500 pledged from someone in the audience at the final bow.

When it was all over, Jimmy was very surprised to walk out into the lobby and find a birthday cake set up for him.

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While they served cake, Steve was busy greeting his many fans.

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He was so busy greeting his many fans that he gave Walt a big hug and walked by me not once but twice without even saying hello. But I'm not bitter. Not me. I just did what I usually do as a designated minion of Steve,...took pictures of Steve receiving adulation for another fabulous performance.

It really was a wonderful night and I'm always verklempt when I see my friend up on stage, with a house full of people responding to his music...'cause I remember when nobody had heard of him, and he sometimes played to only a handful of people. (In those days he noticed that I was in the lobby after performances.)

(And yes, I'm giving Steve a hard time...don't believe half of what you read in this entry!)

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Return of Gene Oh

I'm hoping that some of the more internet savy folks here will have an answer to this perplexing question for me, though I have come to my own possible conclusions, true or not.

Anybody who is on Facebook is aware that whenever you log on, you get one or two suggestions of people you might like to add to your friend list. It's how my list got to close to 700 people...just willy nilly adding suggestions from Facebook.

Lately, I've been more selective. Unless I actuallyknow the person or know their affiliations which I share, I generally just choose to ignore the suggestions.

Until recently the suggestions made sense. They were friends of friends of mine. Maybe really distant friends of friends, but still the suggested names appeared on the friend list of somebody on my friend list.

But a couple have turned up recently that really confuse me. One is a woman who performed with the Davis Comic Opera Company many, many years ago. I never knew her -- I don't even know if I saw her perform -- but her name is familiar. The thing is, though, that she apparently has no Facebook friends yet. You can check out the friend list of the suggested new friend and this woman's friend list is blank.

So how did Facebook pick this person, whose name I know and who was associated with a theatre I was associated with a long time ago, as a possible new friend for me?

It could be that we are in the same "network" and this was just a coincidence, though they are pretty insistent that I really should make this woman my friend.

But then the one that really confused me. They suggest I might like to be friends with Gene Oh. Gene is the guy who sold me my very first bike. He lives in Alameda (so is not in my "network") and I am sure he doesn't have a clue who I am. He has only 3 friends, all young, all Oriental, and all in the San Francisco area.

Now how did Gene Oh get suggested as my friend?? There is zero cross over in our lives anywhere, but for the past couple of weeks, about every third time I log into Facebook, it suggests that I might like Gene Oh for a friend.

Then I came up with a thought that is, quite frankly, a little too much "Big Brother is Watching you" for my tastes.

Gene appears one time, by name, in my journal. After Olivia and I bought our bikes, I wrote an entry on March 17, 2002, the day we bought our bikes, which mentions him by name.

My question: Is Facebook's search engine going through all the blogs of people who list their blogs on their profile information and picking out people who appear in those blogs as friend suggestions??? It's the only reason I can come up with why a guy I bought a bike from seven years ago, with whom I have never communicated and who lives 80 miles away from me, keeps turning up as a suggestion for being my new friend.

Even if that's true, though, it still doesn't explain the woman from the theatre company, who has NEVER appeared in my journal simply because I never had anything to do with her.

"Big Dog coming for a visit," said Jeri's e-mail. She and Phil are coming out here at the end of the month, to be here for my mother's 90th birthday party. The plan was to find a dog sitter for Lester and they have been looking for some time now, but they can't find one that they trust to watch her, so they've decided to drive out. Jeri will have to fly home right after the party because she has classes to teach, but Phil will drive home with Lester, and Walt will go along for the ride.

It's going to be so good to see "our baby" again.

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It's been a long time since she looked like this!!!