Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Old Man of the Mountain

OldMan.jpg (68665 bytes)Char, Pat and I went to see "The Old Man of the Mountain" today. More accurately, I guess he would be the "Old Man of the Foothills."

This is Richard, who was our friend Michele's husband and who has lived alone in their house in the Sierra foothills since Michele's death. Richard, the dog Kofi (yes, named for that Kofi ... how many Kofis do you know? These are people who once had a dog named Milhouse during the Watergate years.) and a couple of cats.

Char picked me up and we drove to an Office Max in Sacramento, where we met Pat. (We also met Peach, who was picking something up from me...when I realized we were going to be late, and found out that Peach had not brought her cell phone with her, I called Pat and told her to look for a lady in a lime green Volkswagon and introduce herself and explain that we were running a bit late!)

As we did last time, we got slightly lost getting to Richard's house. It's in one of those crazy country roads that nobody ever travels and that defeat GPS systems. On our way out again, I took this photo...

highroad.jpg (78405 bytes) remind us next time that at the mailboxes, we need to take the high road! If we make this drive often enough, maybe we will be able to get there in one shot and avoid all those u-turns and backing down strange driveways!

After we finally arrived at the house, Char brought out some wine and Richard put out clam dip (of course) and we all sat around chatting over old times and new times.

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It was fun to reminisce about the old days at Tiny Tots nursery school and the crazy people we met there, who became part of our babysitting co-op. The former freedom rider who literally cringed whenever she saw a policeman...she never talked about what she had witnessed (or experienced) as a freedom rider, but it must have been painful. We remembered the couple, he from Egypt and she from the Bronx, the least likely "middle eastern" wife you'd want to meet. I learned about hummus from her. There was the couple with the spina bifida baby and the couple with the triplets (the day they were born, the pregnant mama had to climb down the ladder of their unfinished house because they didn't have any steps yet!)

We reminisced about how many times the Dads, who took care of the upkeep of the place, set fire to the building while trying to burn off the paint. Char, who was the person they had to report the fires to would respond "God, you didn't call the fire department did you???" They never did--they just prepared for the inevitable fire when they were working around the building. We would probably all be arrested now for child endangerment, but at the time it was all a lot of fun.

I recalled how I came to my "juice and crackers" philosophy of life in those days, a philosophy which has not failed me in the past 30+ years.

Eventually, it was time to leave, but Richard had one request before we left. He wanted help figuring out how to send photos from his computer. Char and I, figuring we were the big gurus, confidently strode into his office to show him how it was done.

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But he has one of those toy computers--an iMac, I think he called it--and all the logical PC commands didn't work. We even tried the "help" menu and did everything it said to do and still could not get a photo to attach to an e-mail. Ultimately, we told him to buy a PC. Or to have Char's daughter, who also has one of those toy computers, send him instructions.

It was really nice spending the afternoon with Richard. We really should do it more often.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunrise, Sunset

I looked down at the huge puppies lying on my family room floor ("huge" being a relative term) and thought "Are these the little guys I bottlefed? Are these the little guys who used to fit in the palm of my hand?"

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"Sunrise, Sunset" goes a lot faster in the world of puppies. Higgins, who arrived here just 6 weeks ago weighing 10 oz now weighs a whopping 8 lbs and is getting too big to put on my baby scale. (Of course considering that he will probably be over 40 lbs when an adult, he's still "little" by a lot of people's standards...people who didn't see him at 10 oz!

It's also surprising how their personalities have developed. Higgins was always my favorite, but he has become very stand-offish. He still runs up to me, but he could care less about me. When I put him in my lap, he's more interested in biting my shirt (and occasionally the skin that's under it) than he is being cuddled. I'm just that big thing that gives him food. Freddie almost seems afraid when I reach out my hand to him, though when he's hungry he, too, comes running up to me. But he's not really interested in affection most of the time. All three want to sleep wherever I am, and curl up around my feet.

Oddly enough Eliza, who was the one that was my least favorite because she seemed so aggressive from birth, has become my little shadow. She follows me everywhere, sits or sleeps at my feet when I'm at the computer, and whines to be picked up. When I pick her up, she nestles on my shoulder and sighs a happy sigh. She has become a little love bug. Or big love bug, depending on your perspective.

(In fact this morning at 4 a.m., I was holding her, my head kind of resting on her back and I fell asleep. When I awoke at 7 a.m., it was with a sore neck from holding Eliza down...and then I remembered that I had put her on the floor before I went to sleep, but my head was still in the "cuddle puppy" position and the sore neck was real!)

I recently answered a question on That's My Answer, something to the effect of what would you do if you could quit your job and work as a volunteer. I answered that I was retired and that I had become a volunteer pooper scooper for the SPCA. Or, as I told Peggy, I'm on doody duty. All the time.

These guys, who created their own bathroom area when they were living in the playpen (the first litter of pups to do so), have again made their own bathroom area now that they have the run of the house. Unfortunately it seems to be the living room, so I am constantly picking up piles off the living room rug. As soon as they wake up, they waddle into the living room and do their business. I would be more upset about it and take greater pains to keep them out of the room, but since the rug is going to be replaced with Pergo (any. day. now.) eventually, I'm not really bothered about it. And since we seem to have cured that pesky worm problem, it's much more pleasant ("pleasant" also being a relative term!) than before.

They are also on a more or less predictable schedule, eating 3 times a day, waking for about 20 minutes of rough play and then sleeping for an hour or more. I think they sleep all night because I'm not aware of them waking up, but they probably are playing in the middle of the night. And now that they have started drinking water, that takes the place of needing to have something in a bowl when/if they wake up.

As for Dexter, he was in my lap yesterday and I realized that I could actually pet parts of his skin that didn't feel reptilian. His bloody scars seem to have healed and there is very, very, very fine fuzz on several parts of his body, especially around his eyes and on his muzzle. You can't really see "fur" yet, but his head is soft, where it was not before. It's "bald-soft," not "fur-soft" but much more inviting than he was originally. There is still a huge rough patch on his back, but I can see progress. I suspect that all the wrestling he's doing with the puppies is helping to brush off the dead skin.

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He is also eating better. I used to put down puppy kibble for him and he'd take a few pieces, but didn't seem to eat much. However, when the puppies started on mash, he discovered he loved it and would chase the puppies away, so I've started fixing him his own bowl of "modified mash" and put him in the playpen to eat and now he's finishing off a bowl of food at a feeding.

We're going to start him on medication for his stuffy nose, which, so far, the puppies don't seem to have caught.

So we're kind of in a good place here, in the Puppy Palace. Things should remain static until the next big step for the puppies...that all important trip to the vet to make sure there will not be a next generation!

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Grown Up Meme thought I'd forgtten about memes, huh? Here's one that doesn't expect that only teenagers will answer it...

Tired of all of those surveys made up by high school kids? Here are questions for the people who are a little older...(Not sayin' we're OLD, just more "mature"!)

1. What bill do you hate paying the most?
Well, I don’t pay most of the bills, Walt does, but I cringe every time I have to pay my internet bill.

2. Do you miss being a child?
Gawd no!!!

3. Chore you hate the most?
All of them.

4. Where was the last place you had a romantic dinner?
Can’t remember

5. If you could go back and change one thing what would it be?
Two things: the death of both kids.

6. Name of your first grade teacher?
Sister Mary John Arthur

7. What do you really want to be doing right now?
Sitting by the Indian ocean, somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, where the temperatures are cooler and spring flowers are in bloom!

8. What did you want to be when you grew up?
A nun or a mother (I was half right)

9. How many colleges did you attend?
University of San Francisco for one semester (night school French class), UC Berkeley for a year and a half (French major)

10. Why did you choose the shirt that you have on right now?
It was on top of the pile.

11. What are your thoughts on gas prices?
I remember when it was less than 25 cents a gallon. I am very old.

12. First thought when the alarm went off this morning?
I don’t get up by alarm; I get up by dog.

13. Last thought before going to sleep last night?
I've been trying to sleep for 2 hours...will I ever get to sleep?

14. What famous person would you like to have dinner with?
Ellen Degeneres

15. Have you ever crashed your vehicle?
Yes. I took off both doors of my parents’ car trying to make a turn into the school yard of my high school.

16. If you didn't have to work, would you volunteer?
I don’t work. I am a volunteer Pooper Scooper for the SPCA.

17. Get up early or sleep in?
Early. Somewhere between 4 and 6 a.m.

18. What is your favorite cartoon character?
Full length cartoon, Bambi. Short cartoons, Casper the Friendly Ghost.

19. Favorite thing to do at night with a guy/girl?
Have in-depth conversations.

20. When did you first start feeling old?
When I reached 66 and realized that I’m ALMOST 70!!!

21. Favorite lunch meat?
Cold roast lamb

22. What do you get every time you go into WalMart?
I don’t shop at Wal Mart

23. Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?
Only insofar as straight people want to take it all for themselves. Marriage should be for any two people who love each other and want to make a life commitment to each other. Bpttom line is it's a legal arrangement which may or may not come with a religious ritual attached.

24. Favorite movie you wouldn't want anyone to find out about?
Well, if I told you, then everybody would know, wouldn’t they?

25. What's your favorite drink?
Water. But a good gin & tonic is nice on a hot day, and some of our Cousins Day concoctions have been right tasty.

26. Who[m] from high school would you like to run in to?
Ruth Rose

27. What radio station is your car radio tuned to right now?
KGO, San Francisco talk radio.

28. Sopranos or Desperate Housewives?
Desperate Housewives, since Sopranos hasn’t been on in a couple of years.

29. Worst relationship mistake that you wish you could take back?
Lying to Randy about a dance. Not because I wanted to go with him, but because I probably hurt his feelings.

30. Do you like the person that sits directly across from/next to you at work?
I work at home and sit across from a wall. Oh Wall, oh sweet, oh lovely Wall.....

31. Have you ever had to use a fire extinguisher for its intended purposes?
I’ve never had to use a fire extinguisher for ANY purpose, fortunately.

32. Last book you finished reading?
"The Last Symbol" by Dan Brown

33. Do you have a teddy bear?
Several. A friend used to buy me teddy bears frequently.

34. One thing you couldn't live without?

35. Do you go to church?
Not since I gave up being a Catholic

36. How old are you?

37. Can you take apart a motor, put it back together, and have no extra parts?
Are you kidding? I'm lucky if I know how to pump gas. Don't ask me something complicated like--where do I add a quart of oil?

38. Are you for or against the death penalty?
Against. It's cheaper to keep someone on a life sentence and I think that's a far worse punishment. I'm not in favor of the "an eye for an eye" philosophy

39. If there is a God and you could ask him/her one question what would it be?
Will I get to see my kids again after I die?

40. Do you think its possible that there is life on other planets?
I think it's terribly egotistical of us to think that in this vast cosmos only one tiny speck of dust is capable of evolving intelligent life.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sadie, Sadie, Pretty Lady

Stacey, the volunteer coordinator for the SPCA, contacted me yesterday to ask if I could come to Petco and take pictures of the dogs who didn't have pictures for the PetFinder web site. There is a guy who does it every week, and his photos are professional quality. I take snapshots, but I said that I would come.

I didn't get there until about 2 because Eliza had been whining and when I picked her up to cuddle her, she fell asleep in my arms. I was enjoying the puppy time and didn't want to wake her up.

When I got to Petco it turned out that there were only two dogs who needed photos. Peanut is a chihuahua who makes Dexter look like he went through an "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" machine!

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The other dog who needed photos taken was Sadie, Stacey said. The name didn't immediately ring a bell, but one look at those teats and I knew instantly that this was the mother of our puppies.

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Sadie2.jpg (56719 bytes)Looking at Sadie makes me realize why the puppies, especially Higgins, are such behemoths.

She seemed like a really sweet dog (and look at the size of that tongue!). But....BIG. I think I'm just as glad that she and the other 9 puppies are in a different foster home!

The puppies are a little over 5 weeks old today and growing like weeds. I sometimes think if I watch closely I can actually see them growing.

They are completely off of the bottle and next week I will start cutting back the amount of formula that I mix with their solid food and within the next couple of weeks, they should be taking only puppy kibble.

And they are starting to play -- with each other and with toys. I don't remember other puppies who really took to toys like these guys. They are particularly fond of finding cloth on the floor and dragging it across the room, which is easy to do since the floor is covered with towels and rugs.

Dexter has moved right in as one of the guys.

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Of course the difference is that Dexter is at least two months more mature than the puppies so he expects them to play the way he does and they are still just learning. Today he raced at top speed from one end of the house to the other and back again over and over again, crouching down each time and inviting the puppies to join him. "C'mon...this is FUN!" The puppies, who had just discovered the living room (thanks to Dexter), were too busy investigating the new smells--and they can't run like that anyway. The best they can manage is a fast waddle. It will be a week before they are up to "running."

But when it comes to wrestling, they are all in it together.

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Dexter's favorite is Eliza, but if she's sleeping, he'll wrestle with the other two. He's smarter and more experienced than they are, but they are learning to hold their old against him. It won't be long before Higgins can take him as an hors d'oeuvre!

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Despite the fact that the house is going to be in turmoil for at least another month and that picking up poop is once again my biggest activity, I really love this stage of puppy rearing, and watch them grow from those little lumps who came here in August into little personalities. I will leave watching them become as big as Sadie to someone else!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Five Stages of Fat Acceptance

"OK. I'm ready to go," said Walt, his suitcase standing in the front hall. He was flying to Santa Barbara for the weekend, to visit with his mother while his sister and her husband were off on vacation for a few days.

I'd lost track of time. I looked down at what I was wearing--my shorts, which I wear in the house on these triple-digit days.

Shit. No time to change into long pants. I had a bunch of errands I was going to run on my way home from the airport and I hate to wear short when I'm running around town, 'cause I look of those fat ladies wearing ugly shorts.

I mentally went through a list of my options as we drove out to the Sacramento Airport and finally decided--the heck with it. I'd just get the stuff done I wanted to do and get into my "detached place" and forget about what people were thinking as they looked at me.

I had arrived at "fat acceptance."

Long ago, Elizabeth Kubler Ross determined the 5 stages of grief, which actually work whether your grief is over the death of a person, the loss of a friendship, or any other situation which causes you great grief. I realized that they also apply to weight.

1. Denial. "I haven't gained all that much, have I?" I haven't stepped on a scale and I've had to buy larger clothes, but I'm sure it's not that bad and, like any good addict, "I can stop eating bad food whenever I want."

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2. Anger. "How could I have let this happen to me?" Look at that panniculus. (look it up) I was on my way to being "normal" again when I started to slip, and I just couldn't stop eating. I'm so MAD at myself!

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3. Bargaining. "Oh that thing looks so good. Let me just let go for tonight and I promise I'll make it up tomorrow..."

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4. Depression. In the five stages of grief, this is described as "overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, self pity, mourning loss of person as well as the hopes, dreams and plans for the future. Feeling lack of control, feeling numb." You can see how this easily translates to being fat.

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5. Acceptance. You wake up one morning and your husband asks you to drive him to the airport. You're wearing shorts and it's going to be 100 degrees out and you have to stop at a store on your way home. You sigh and say "screw it" and get into the car and when you get to the store, you try not to think about what people are thinking about you as they watch you looking at the food displays.

Ironically, as I was reading through the Five Stages of Depression, the page was about death and yet at the bottom was some sort of link about flat bellies and the link led me here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

"The Cousins"

We talked about "the cousins" at Cousins Day and we wondered what all the other cousins were feeling at my mother's birthday party when it was announced that "the cousins" were going to be the back-up singers for the song that the kids wrote for my mother.

The thing is that I don't have two cousins...I have thirty-two cousins. This was a prolific family and a large one to begin with. My mother was one of eleven children (one of whom drowned in a creek at age 4, long before my mother was born). Most of the children had children. My oldest aunt Mel had a boy about my mother's age, who was killed crossing the street on the first day of school, while his mother watched from an apartment window. She never had any other children.

But that leaves all the rest of us!

My father didn't really like my mother's family very much, so I didn't spend much time around my Scott relatives. Peach and Kathy were the two that I knew best of all. Peach has a sister, Mandy, with whom I have never been close. I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of conversations we've had in the past 60 years. She's a very private person and difficult to get to know.

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Peach, left; Mandy, right

Kathy has a brother, Patrick, and a sister, Kelly, whom I know better than Mandy, but as we have moved into adulthood, Patrick now lives in Arizona and Kelly lived in Nevada for a long time and now lives in the state of Washington.

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My aunt Betsy had several children, but we really only got to know Shirley, who was the oldest of the cousins I remember in my life as a kid (Shirley used to babysit for Karen and me). Shirley died a few years ago. She had several children too, most of whom are not that much younger than the three of us. Her daughters were the "D" girls--Debbie, Donna and Denise. Her sons I don't know at all and can't even remember their names! I know Donna better through Facebook than I do in person, and I know Debbie only very slightly. I see Denise more often than any of them, but not all that often and I don't really have much of a relationship with her.

At least one of the cousins has died and a couple have no relationship with the family whatsoever, for whatever bad blood exists that brought about the rift in the family.

That leaves all the rest, whom I may or may not have seen intermittently throughout my life, but if you count them all up, there are (or were) 32 of them, so for those who were at my mother's party, I'm wondering how they felt to have the three of us singled out as "the cousins." For what it's worth, we do feel somewhat guilty about that!

That the three of us developed this whole "cousins day" thing was pure serendipity and that it has grown into such a close-knit thing is a function of time and deepening trust. A lot of tears fell into a lot of glasses of booze. A lot of laughs and in-jokes spilled out over games of 65. And after more than two years, it's hard to think of adding others to our group, whether they are related or not.

It's like my mother's mah jong group. They have all played together for so long that when they invite someone else to join them, it completely changes the dynamic and isn't as much fun, so they've decided that when all four of them can no longer come to mah jong games, they will just stop playing.

I think that's how the four of us feel about Cousins Day. In fact, we sort of pledged it this morning. When one of us dies, or is no longer able to come to Cousins Day, we will just stop having it. It doesn't mean that it might not be replaced with something else, but Cousins Day dies with the first one of the four of us who dies--and we've made my mother promise to be the last one to die, because we need her house!!! :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Crafty Cousins

It's amazing how seemingly insignificant events in one's life can start something bigger than you realize.

When we were on our trip this summer, many of us in the group were taken with and purchased the bread baskets that were sold in the So. of France and seen in use in many restaurants we visited. I took the photo below in a shop in Arles where there were lots and lots of them.

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It's the one in the square at lower right

They made great gifts and I bought one for my mother at the Farmers Market in Arles, which I gave to her last month, with her other gifts and the gifts I'd bought for Peach and Kathy.

Now, Peach and Kathy are the "crafty cousins." They do gorgeous cross stitch and many other things, and they have been trying to get a business started, and looking for things they could make to sell at a craft fair before the holidays this year.

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When Kathy saw the bread basket, she pounced on it and decided that it was something she'd never seen before, she loved it, thought it would be easy to make and started examining it from every angle, measuring and making notes.

After we'd settled ourselves in for coffee yesterday, at the start of Cousins Day, Kathy and Peach pulled out a bread basket they had made.

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They have been playing around with fabric and sizes and making lots of these baskets. Everybody who sees them wants one and they have sold more than a dozen already. Every time they show the basket to someone, they want to buy it. They want to make 50-60 in time for a craft fair in November and will decide, from the response to the baskets, if they will make this a real business or not.

We started talking about the possibilities beyond bread baskets. Matching napkin holders (same pattern, but different size), matching placemats (they have those in France too).

I decided that there were uses beyond just the dinner table. I can envision this being a great baby shower gift, for example, done in a baby themed pattern and filled with baby items, like q-tips, lotion, baby rattle, and a host of other small baby things.

Or a basket for the guest bathroom, filled with little soaps, shampoo, washcloths, etc.

Or maybe a gift basket for a new neighbor, filled with some sort of cookies or bread or whatever.

Or a gift for the cook in your life, filled with spices and small cooking utensils.

The ideas kept flowing and before we left, I had ordered three of them myself and been asked to make a list of ideas for uses for such a basket.

It was another successful Cousins Day. I presented everyone with the cookbook I'd made of photos and recipes from the past two years of Cousins Days, which they all liked. Peach complained that all the pictures of drinks being poured were of HER pouring them, so she took a picture of ME pouring drinks this time.

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This was a "French 76, a mixture of vodka, cointreau and lemon juice, topped off with champage.

There were winners of 65: One won 3, two won 2, and one was the victim of bad karma, which will teach her to speak nicely next time.

We laughed a lot and declared that as Cousins Days go, this was one of the "funner" ones! I can hardly wait to see how this possible business goes!

If anybody would like to contact my crafty cousins about ordering one of the baskets you can write to them at

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Around the World

Here's a quiz for you. What do the following countries have in common?

The Dominican Republic

These are all countries where I have helped loan money to entrepreneurs trying to establish businesses through Kiva, the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe. They limit individual loans to $25, the idea being that groups of people are working together to help people in developing or under-developed countries get a start. As the loans are repaid, you can loan the same money over and over again to new indviduals or groups. Talk about an effortless feel-good way of giving someone a real boost.

Today, for example, I learned that I had received enough money back on my loans that I could either take the money back, or re-loan it. Naturally I re-loaned it. I always re-loan the money.

I looked through the list of people who were asking for loans and was taken by the Katumba-2-united Nyangoma Peace Group.

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I liked it because of the leader, Nyangoma Peace, who is twenty-nine years old, single with one child, who is in school. She is an engineer operating a garage dealing with car mechanics. She has been in the mechanics business for over ten years.

Peace is using the loan to buy more car paint and spare parts to be the best in her business. This will help her expand the business. She is a hardworking woman whose future hope is to purchase a plot of land and construct a house of her own, the description read.

I loved the idea of all of these women owning a garage and working as car mechanics! More power to them...or at least $25 to help them get going.

I also decided to help a group of women from The Dominican Republic, the La Alternativa Group, which has been selling clothing and shoes for several years and are now asking for their second loan through Kiva. The leader of the group is a mother of three 10 and under, and, according to the description, the success of her business is vitally important for their health and education. Antonia finds herself using the profits from her business to feed her children and pay for their studies, books, uniforms and more. This loan is vitally important to the growth of her business – and sub sequentially the education of her children!

Recently I helped to fund Sona, a farmer in Azerbaijan, the Nawad John Mohammed Group in Pakistan, Ester Ogbti, who sells used clothing in Nigeria, and Rosa who runs a butcher shop in Peru.

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Since I first heard about Kiva from Al Gore in 2007, I have made 13 loans, of which four have been completely repaid, two are 92% paid and the rest, more recent loans, are repaid anywhere from 0% to 64%. (Ironically the women to whom I have loaned money have repaid their loans more quickly than the men.)

It seems like such a small thing, but I'm sure that for the entrepreneurs who are attempting to better their lives it's a very big thing.

Kiva is changing the world, one loan at a time. I hope others who have not checked them out yet will take the opportunity to do so at this time. The group in The Dominican Republic still needs a bit of money to complete the loan, for example.

Tomorrow is Cousins Day, so the next entry will be posted late...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Animal Fries

Did you know In-and-Out Burger had a "secret menu"? I sure didn't.

I had a delightful guest this afternoon. My friend Catherine's daughter, who had moved into her dorm at UCD yesterday afternoon, was feeling the need for a "puppy fix" so I invited her to come over and meet the puppies.

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She fell in love with all of them (who wouldn't?) and we spent a very pleasant hour playing with or watching the puppies. And we found out that now that Dexter is feeling comfortable around here, and not quite so intimidated by all the other dogs, that he is quite the lothario. There was a lot of pupophilia going on around here.

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Higgins wasn't too happy about it, but Dexter wasn't going to give up without a struggle.

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But tiny tho Dexter is, size is apparently no object (which explains those German Shephard / daschund combinations you see from time to time!)

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He wasn't quite tall enough to really do a good job on Lizzie, but he did find her leg rather attractive.

After about an hour, the puppies were fading fast, so I offered to drive my guest back to her dorm. She asked if we could stop by In-and-Out so she could get some dinner, since she hadn't had any lunch. I heard her order something special--and I didn't think you got special stuff at In-and-Out, so when we sat down I asked her what she had ordered. Her "burger" was to come without meat (I can't remember what it's called), and instead of fries, she had something called "animal fries," which she described as something like a "heart attack in a bowl," but oh my word was it good...french fries covered with melted cheese, grilled onions, and "pink sauce" (which seemed to be similar to Thousand Island dressing). Naturally if it's like a "heart attack in a bowl," you know it's going to be something I'm going to find delicious.

I'm not a big In-and-Out Burger fan...but I may have to go back just to sound like I'm one of the "in crowd" and order off the secret menu!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Every Day's a Holiday

I'm in my third year of taking self portraits to post on Flickr. When I die, nobody is going to be able to complain that there were never any photos taken of me!

But after three years, there is a little dampening of that creative spark that was there during year one. I notice that all of us who have continued on into the third year sometimes have to really stretch things to get a daily self portrait. I posted this one recently, for example, because it was nearing midnight and I still hadn't taken my daily photo.

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But the very next day I came across a web site, run by Hallmark Cards, called "Every Day's a Holiday." It lists at least one holiday for every day of the year. So I decided to start posting a photo a day related to one of the day's holidays.

(I should add that the day after I found the site, I lost it and, since its sponsor was Rice Krispie treats, I spent a day looking for all the Rice Krispie and Kelloggs sites I could find, to no avail..then thought of retracing my steps through the History, where I found it again, but in the process found several other "every day's a holiday" sites.) So I'm going to see how far I can go celebrating holidays.

Like National Cheeseburger Day.

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This actually was a more difficult shot to get than you'd expect. We only have one drive-thru fast food place on this side of town and when I got there, it was "temporarily closed." (I learned later that they had closed down NINE Jack-in-the-Boxes in the area that day, and then reopened them later, under Chapter 11!) I was going to start the project, then, on a different day, but after going to see Seussical Friday night, I decided I'd drive by Jack-in-the-Box again, and it was opened. So this photo was taken at 11 p.m. ... and the dogs got most of the food I bought because I wasn't really hungry at all.

The next day, "Talk like a Pirate Day" just involved a lot of Photoshop manipulation.

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But I was ready for National Women's Friendship Day today...

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...because Catherine (left) was bringing her daughter Siobhan to UC Davis to move into the dorm. The two of them and their friend Artemis met me for a late lunch at Crepeville.

And I'm really looking forward to the 22nd, which is "Elephant Appreciation Day" because I have a GREAT photo already for that.

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(This is what I'd look like if I had Peggy's body!)

It may be an interesting year...or I may just give up at some point, but there are lots of really great possibilities among the lists I found.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dog Day Afternoon

It really was a dog day afternoon.

At noon I packed up Barkley for what I hoped would be his last trip to Petco. Ashley had told me that there were 3 inquiries about him this week (possibly due to our changing the spelling of his name from "Barkley" to "Berkley.")

When I dropped him off, I asked Stacey about getting gift cards for Petco so I could buy some more Step 2 for the puppies. She gave me two cards, $20 each, so I bought the last can of Step 2 and a bag of the smallest size puppy kibble I could find, hoping to start adding that to the Step 2 before I run out of it.

From there I drove to the SPCA Thrift store to pick up another bag of Esbilac, puppy formula. I am not going to need much more of it, but I will need some more before these guys are completely off of it.

My car now had a sack of puppy kibble, a sack of puppy formula and a can of intermediate puppy food.

I drove home and alternately played with and cleaned up after puppies. I'd forgotten that this is the stage of puppy development when we have towels all over the floor all the time. Washing all the towels and their bedding took two loads of wash. I got them settled into the playpen for naps in clean bedding.

Additionally, the puppies have worms. Two years ago this would have grossed me out, but when I saw Eliza trying to expell this long string of what I at first thought was feces but which turned out to be a long white worm, I just grabbed it and pulled it out. Higgins also vomited once and possibly twice today, which I suspect is also part of the worm condition.

When I returned to Petco to get Barkley, someone was being interviewed about adopting him, so I decided to shop for food for our dogs. Ashley stopped me and said she had a sack of puppy kibble for me. I took it because you can never have too much puppy kibble, I have realized! I took that to the car and then went back to get some diet dog food for Lizzie and Sheila, using the last of the Petco Cards (since I figure it was retroactive food for Barkley, who had been sharing our dogs' food--and it only paid for half the bag of food anyway).

I ran into Kim, who was interviewing Barkley's new family and she said "have you seen your new dog?"

Oh. I forgot about the new dog.

I put the two sacks of new kibble in the car and went back to find the new dog. Pretty soon someone came out with this pile of towels out of which poked a tiny face.

Our new foster is another chihuahua with Demodex, like the Royal Puppies, except this one is going to have darker fur because his skin looks more black and purple than the Royal Puppies, who were quite pink.

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He's also a lot more scabby than the Royal Puppies were.

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Ashley loaded me up with medicine for Demodex and medicine for worms and promised to e-mail me with dosages and get me a needle to inject one of the Demodex meds.

They gave me the honor of naming the new pup (who is about 3 months old) and after first considering JoJo (for the character in Seussical, which I saw last night), I realized that since he has Demodex, I should name him Dexter. So we now have Dexter.

Dexter is a little overwhelmed with the house. He's about the height of the puppies, but they probably outweigh him by a lot. He doesn't know if he wants to be in my lap or on the floor, but he did sleep in my lap for a bit while I watched "The Secret Life of Bees," while everybody was napping.

The puppies found a quiet spot behind the playpen to sleep.

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(Freddie's head is under the back end of the treadmill)

During the movie Walt called twice, once from Logan Airport in Boston and once from O'Hare in Chicago, where he was changing planes. I wonder if he's ready to be plunged back into the madness of this doghouse!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

10,000 Mile Tune-Up

I feel like my tires have been rotated, my oil changed, and my chassis overhauled. In other words, I have had my physical. I arrived on the right day and at the right time. Yay me!

The first stop is always at the dreaded scale and I was surprised (and pleased) to see that I had lost about 10 lbs. I'm not sure how I did that, but it must be connected with all that exercise in France and Italy (and my body must not have paid attention to all the gelato).

Second surprise was that my blood pressure agreed with what BloodSource got when I donated blood a couple of weeks ago: 100/60. I expressed shock and astonishment. My blood pressure is never that low--and I hadn't been taking my blood pressure medication.

Because of my protests, the nurse decided to also check the pressure in my other arm and that was much more what I expected. I don't remember the numbers, but it was too high. I don't understand how you can have such a discrepancy in the same body in different arms.

The doctor finally came in and was pleased to see that I had gone for my mammogram yesterday. We had a long talk about what I'm doing and not doing. I'm developing a real liking of this doctor, who has been my doctor for several years, but I haven't seen her that often because of my avoidance of appointments. And she's so low key and soft spoken that you want to do what she suggests.

My one big concern is that I've developed numbness in 2 fingers over the past several months, but her tests didn't raise any immediate alarms...yet. I passed all of her tests with flying colors. She says she wants to see if it could possibly be related to ulnar nerve compression, which could happen with people who use a keyboard frequently (duh!) So she's ordered a nerve compression study. There is also a possibility this is diabetes related, but she says that with a return to taking my meds, this could possibly go away. This is a great relief, since I expected her to come in waving a saw and threatening to chop off my arm.

She re-took my blood pressure in both arms and also got the same discrepancy, so she ordered an EKG which showed a small, non worrisome inconsistency, so she's set up a stress test. (The "E" word was not mentioned, nor was the "W" word -- exercise and weight.)

So I have a whole bunch of health-related follow-ups to do, which include re-taking the classes on diabetes, the nerve conduction study, the stress test, followup labs to see how my new regimen is working (or not), and an appointment with my gynecologist. I ended the morning with a flu shot and left the building feeling much more relieved than I thought I would.

I'm not exacty the picture of glowing health, but I'm not falling apart either, and that's nice to know.

As of today, only Freddie is still taking a bottle. Overnight, Higgins and Eliza just stopped taking it. They hadn't been taking to the ground up puppy chow I'd mixed with formula, so I went and got some "Step 2," which looks just like formula, but which is actually a cereal type thing. They seem to like this. In fact, it so satisfies them that Higgins leaned up against my "Mama Teddy Bear" and then just kind of slid down into this position.

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I'm so glad that we have Mama Bear back again. I just love taking pictures like this.

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They have reached an age where they sleep hard and wake up bored, so I'm letting them out in the family room more. Like all puppies before them, their favorite place to be is under the playpen

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They are now officially toddlers and this is such a fun stage in a puppy's growing up. Walt will be very surprised when he comes home tomorrow, since they didnt even have their eyes opened when he left!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Doctor Won't See You Now

I woke up this morning with a heavy heart. I had been putting it off for weeks, but it was finally the day to see my doctor for a long-overdue physical exam.

For all of my frustration with my mother about her excuses why she doesn't see a doctor and her anger at the suggestion that she might have to take medicine and her cavalier attitude about the medications she's been prescribed, the dirty truth is that I am far worse than she is. I just don't let anybody know that I think all the things that she actually says.

I've been putting off lab tests for months now because I know that they are going to be bad. But I finally bit the bullet and had the tests done a couple of weeks ago. Kaiser e-mails you the results and they were, as I knew they would be, bad.

The doctor's office had been calling me periodically for weeks. Despite the fact that I stay at home most of the time, somehow I was never here when they called (and if I was here, if I saw it was the doctor's office calling, I let it go to voice mail). Then somehow I never got around to returning the call. (That's actually easy to do because the call-back number you get is for the appointment office, not for the doctor's office.)

But finally I just couldn't put it off any more. I had postponed because of my mother's health (when actually it was only that I was going to the doctor with her ONE day...but that bought me a month). I postponed because of the trip to Europe, which actually gave me TWO months, since I didn't tell the doctor that I was only going to be gone for two weeks. And then there were those calls I never returned.

See, the thing is that I never outgrew my childish fear of disapproval. The very worst thing I can envision is not physical pain, it's fearing someone will be upset with me. It's bad enough when it's because of something that I can't do anything about, but when it's because of my own actions, that's even worse.

My mother always gets glowing doctor reports and has a witty reparte with her health care providers. Mine are always pointing out things that I had done wrong or things that I should be doing...that I know I should be doing.

Heck, I stopped going to the dentist for more than twenty years because I knew I wasn't flossing and I couldn't bear to hear my dentist tell me I should floss. He didn't even have to yell at me; all he had to do was look over his glasses with me, look exasperated, and point out that I should be flossing and would lose my teeth if I didn't.

(Fortunately, Cindy came into my life and cured me of dental fear--and I even floss now.)

But after I had the blood tests done, I finally went to the web site and made an appointment. The week before the appointment, I went back to the web site and changed it to a couple of weeks later. This has been going on, now, for several appointments.

Finally, finally, I had to face the music.

I got up this morning, took my shower, got the puppies fed, and, resisting the urge to reschedule the appointment yet again, I girded my loins, took a deep breath and drove to the doctor's office. The appointment was for 10:20 and I arrived at 10:20 on the dot. I hadn't had any breakfast because, you know, a bowl of cereal would add so much weight and I wanted to be as light as possible. (bwahahahaha)

"You're quite a bit early," the receptionist said. "Your appointment isn't until 11:20."

I told her that was OK because I'd brought a book with me. I had also planned on getting a mammogram today too, so I could do that to kill time (no appointment needed for a mammogram).

Then the receptionist checked her computer again. "Actually," she said, "you're very early. Your appointment is not until tomorrow!"

I don't have a clue where I got the idea that it was today at 10:20. But it's not until tomorrow.

I did stop and get a mammogram (oh, how I long for the day when they decide that men need to have penograms yearly!!!). And then I stopped at a nearby restaurant to have a breakfast that I really shouldn't have had--but it gave me an opportunity to sit and read another couple of chapters of Dan Brown's book (I will have finished it by the time I post this entry).

And now I have to do the damn thing all over again. Go through the tortures of the damned about what the doctor will say, and get to the office on time. And I still don't know why I had the idea the appointment was for today because it very clearly says, on my desk calendar that it's for tomorrow at 11:20.

Gee...d'ya think that I can claim that all the "bad" things about my health are because I'm losing it mentally?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bring Back My Puppies!

They woke up earlier than anticipated this morning--maybe 3? or 4? It's all a blur. I stumbled out to the kitchen and started the normal routine.

These guys have gotten themselves into a regular routine the past week or so. It's really been quite nice. They wake up, with Higgins being the loudest, clamoring to eat. I fix him a bottle, which he downs in about 10 minutes -- 8 oz -- and then lies on my stomach until he gives a big puppy belch. While I'm feeding him. the other two are watching us. Eliza growls and bats at Freddie. Freddie either whines to eat or plays with Eliza.

Freddie is next to eat and has started eating more, downing either a full 8 oz, or at the least 4 oz.

While I feed Freddie, Eliza cuddles up with the freshly fed Higgins and goes back to sleep. When I put Freddie into the playpen, I give Eliza a skritch and her head pops up and she scrambles to get out from under Higgins. You can almost hear her thinking "My turn? Is it finally my turn??" She also takes nearly 8 oz of milk, fairly quickly.

They also established a potty area of the playpen. They sleep on one end and do their business on the other. This makes it much easier for me because I keep a towel on the potty end and change that usually after each feeding, which means I don't have to completely change the bedding more than once a day, because the rest of it stays pretty clean.

OK. That's the way it's been for about a week.

So when they woke up this morning I started feeding Higgins and he frantically sucked and chewed at the nipple and was finished after only 4 oz. Sometimes this happens if the nipple is blocked, but it was running clear. I decided that he'd been awakened by teething pain, not hunger and that the chewing was helping. I didn't really worry about it because he's such a horse anyway.

I put him back and picked up Eliza, who was crying the loudest and damned if she didn't do the same thing. Very little sucking, mostly chewing and she only took two ounces. Well...OK... I put her back in bed and took Freddie, who did eat, but less than usual. Among the three of them, they barely finished 8 oz--and they usually finish about 2-1/2 eight oz. bottles.

As I said, they had awakened early, so I didn't really worry about it. They woke up again 4 hours later and it was a repeat of the previous feeding. Only added with it this time, when I put Higgins back, he peed where he normally sleeps.

I've had trouble getting all three of them to take a bottle all day today. I finally put out some of the "Step 2" solid food (like puppy pablum) and they finished that all right, so I'm not really worried that they are not getting's just that my sweet little predictable puppies are suddenly acting very strange and that bothers me.

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the 3 puppies sleeping on what they
used to use as their bathroom.

My copy of Dan Brown's new book arrived yesterday and I decided to just give up doing anything optional today and have been engrossed in the book. I've finished about half of it and already predict an increase in tourism to Washington, D.C.!

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I happened to have a brief chat with Steve, who is not only a big Dan Brown fan, but also a personal friend of Brown...and who is presently in Washington, DC while Jimmy performs Zero Hour. Surprisingly he doesn't have the book yet and I told him he needed to go out and buy it immediately, especially since they are staying near the Freemason Center!

I certainly am learning a lot about the Masons (how much I'm actually absorbing, however, is an entirely different subject!)

However, it's such an engrossing book that it was 2 p.m. before I thought about lunch and after 9 before I thought about dinner. Now that's engrossing!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Tonight Show that Wasn't

Well, did you watch? After the months of hype and the weeks of promos, the new Jay Leno Show premiered last night.


Basically I have a real soft spot in my heart for The Tonight Show. I started watching it when Steve Allen was the host, watched intermittently through the Jack Parr days, and was a loyal follower through Johnny Carson's 30 years. I taped every single program of the last month of Carson, prior to Leno's take-over.

The fact that I didnt even tape Leno's last show (though I did watch it) says how I felt about the Jay Leno Tonight Show vs. the Carson Tonight Show. In its later years, I only watched once or twice a week, usually the nights when "Headlines" were on. I would watch the monologue and watch through "Headlines" and then turn it off.

I also kind of liked Jay-Walking, amazed that we have such a nation of really uninformed to downright stupid people in professions, like teaching, which help shape our children's minds.

Sometimes I watched the Conan O'Brien Show late at night, when Leno was still doing Tonight, but O'Brien isn't really my kinda guy. Oh he was OK, but too silly for my tastes. I was not excited aboaut his taking over for Leno, but understood that it was a logical choice (personally, I prefer Craig Ferguson, but haven't watched him regularly enough to be able to rave about him).

From what I saw about all the promos of The Jay Leno Show, I wondered if people would watch it five nights a week and continue to watch Conan an hour later.

So what did I think about the opening show. Well, that "yawwwwwnnnnnn" expressed it pretty well. I think there was a time when I might have liked Leno's jokes, but despite his apparent nice-guy image, I don't like put-down humor. He didn't last night, but he tells terrible cliche jokes about gay people that I always find offensive.

The comedian he had embarrass a poor girl at a carwash went on interminably, with sexual innuendos that made her obviously very uncomfortable. I could have done without that.

The banter with Kevin Eubanks is just as awkward as it always was...he doesn't have the pizazz of Doc Severinson and is definitely NOT a comedian. Interestingly, in all the years that Leno did The Tonight Show, I never saw him single out any band members the way Carson used to. The woman who does the vocals during the commercials has been doing them forever and I've never known her name.

The "interview" with Obama was clever, but again it was a Tonight Show bit moved to the new format.

Leno said there would be no desk on his new show, and there wasn't. I longed for one. Somehow the two-chairs-facing-each-other was just a desk without a desk. Jay looks better behind a desk.

Jerry Seinfeld was the best part of the show, though the shtick with Oprah was kind of dumb.

Maybe Kanye West deserved to be put on the spot, but that was an awfully long awkward period with no sound at all after Jay hit him with "I knew your Mom...what would your Mom have thought about your behavior?" C'mon...even Barbara Walters doesn't hit that low--or let the silence go on that long!

I wasn't really interested in the music, so I skipped over that (I was watching on our DVR).

The most depressing part of the show was that he's kept "headlines" but now they come at the end of the show, so you have to sit through a whole hour of this boring stuff before you get to the only part that you really enjoy.

The show did not put me in the mood to watch my local news (thank goodness for the return of The Daily Show from vacation last night) and after having watched an hour of "The Tonight Show that isn't really The Tonight Show," I certainly wasn't in any mood to stay up for Conan O'Brien.

This is the show that is supposed to save the network. I'll be curious to hear what others thought of it. I suppose it's not fair to judge a show until it's had a chance to really find its footing, but this isn't a "new" show, at least so far. It's The Tonight Show in a different time slot, with Jay standing up instead of sitting down and then sitting down in an easy chair instead of behind the desk.

I was not instantly impressed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hermithood--the good, the bad, the ugly

I was sitting at the kitchen table eating lunch and feeling the effects of the heat. I had earlier gone out to the store, and so had taken off my shorts and put on long pants, which I was still wearing as I sat down to eat. I was alone in the house and considered just taking off the pants and finishing my dinner in my underwear. But thoughts of my father stopped me.

My father died in 1987. As he predicted years before, he died about three days before he was found by a neighbor. He had apparently been eating a piece of watermelon. It was a hot day and he had been sitting at the kitchen table (the same table at which I was sitting, as a matter of fact), and was stark naked, except for one sock. (His death was not a tragic one of the family, so the joke has always been that we aren't sure exactly which appendage was wearing the sock!)

For one brief moment, I understood his state of dishabille. He had lived alone for many years after his divorce from my mother, and especially in his last couple of years, when he had driven all of his family and friends away and his dogs died. He had become a hermit, complete with a sign on the front door telling people to go away unless he had invited them to visit.

Walt and Phil left San Rafael the morning after my mother's party and drove across the country, arriving in Boston on Friday, the day before Phil and Jeri were to go to a wedding. Walt is spending a few days in Boston before flying home later this week, so I am a hermit this week.

In truth, I rather like having the house all to myself (something that I used to have all the time before Walt retired--and have now again, now that he has gone back to work part time). But I got to thinking about the state of "hermit-hood" and realized that there are good things, bad things, and ugly things. These probably mostly apply to people who are recently hermited and whose state of hermithood is fairly limited. I suspect that the longer you live by yourself, the more these things sort themselves out.


  • Cereal for dinner and cold leftover spaghetti for breakfast, if you don't feel like cooking.

  • No guilt about watching movies in the middle of the may watch movies in the middle of the day when someone else in the house, but you feel guilty about it, especially if the other person is cleaning house while you're lolling about watching a video.

  • Uninterrupted time to do whatever you're doing.

  • No guilt trips if you don't get on the treadmill, walk the dog or whatever else you should be doing.

  • No guilt trip about watching Touched by an Angel instead of Chris Matthews.

  • You can postpone going to the grocery store until the very last possible moment (like when you run out of detergent washing the latest dirty puppy laundry, knowing that there will be more in a matter of hours)


  • No help with the puppies...nobody to comfort the crying one who is waiting to be fed, while I'm feeding the previous one.

  • Nobody to stop by the store on the way home, so I don't have to shop.

  • Really crappy eating habits.

  • Nobody to share those cute moments with the puppies. Nobody to say "shhh...come here...look at this...." and point out a cute pile of sleeping puppies.

  • Nobody to rant and rave to.

  • Really, really boring life so that when phone calls come, there is no interesting answer to "what's new?"


  • Dishes stacked in the sink

  • Rapidly reproducing dust bunnies.

  • "Do I really need to take a shower this morning if I'm not going to be seeing anybody?"

It will be good to have Walt home again.

Monday, September 14, 2009


First, a couple of days ago, I did an entry on my memories of the 50s, inspired by Jon's entry of the day before that. Well, he went me one better. Check out his entry, "What She Did, I Did Too."

Now, let's talk puppies.

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This is how I see them most of the time, roly poly little bellies hanging out, puppies totally passed out. Sometimes they are separated like this, sometimes cuddled up close together.

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And sometimes in their sleep, they find ways to get those sucking urges met.

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They are now taking so much by bottle (8 oz for Higgins, 6 oz each for Eliza and Freddie) that I decided to start them on mash a few days ago, even though it was a bit early. You may remember the result!

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Freddie was the only one who really ate anything, and he got more on himself than in himself, but Higgins did enjoy licking behind his ears after I gave Freddie his bath.

I decided to give them a few more days and today was the day I was going to try them on mash again. They still aren't really enthusiastic about it, especially Higgins, but they did do much better their second time out.

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(They still took a bottle afterwards, because they didn't eat all that much mash...but it's a start. You can also get a really good idea of how much bigger Higgins is than Freddie!)

I just gave them mash at one meal and will offer it at one meal a day for the next few days and eventually get them off formula entirely, which is a good thing since I'm almost out of formula anyway.

My babies are growing up.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Walt and I haven't been to London together in several years, but we have visited that city enough times that I almost feel comfortable wandering around town, knowing approximately where I am in the busy parts and how to get where I want to go.

London is our town of "splurge." We splurge on theatre. We always have a theatre orgy when there, seeing a play a night. There may be one or two plays that we want to see and are willing to pay high prices for (we saw Lion King for the first time in London and also managed to get tickets for the very popular Sunset Blvd because Betty Buckley, who was playing Norma Desmond, had taken a few days off and so we saw her understudy (thus tickets were easier to get).

Usually, however, we go to Leicester Square, where there is a low-cost ticket booth, like TKTS in Times Square in New York. We buy whatever sounds good or, in some cases, kind of a pig in a poke. I remember once I had seen that Derek Jacobi was appearing in a play and we were able to find tickets at the booth in Leicester Square. (Ironically, the people sitting directly behind us at that performance were friends from The Lamplighters in San Francisco -- we didn't even know they were traveling, nor did they know that we were in London).

We've seen some traditional British comedies just because there were tickets available for half price in Leicester Square. We happened to see Anthony Hopkins in M. Butterfly because Walt was able to get tickets at Leicester Square. (We've also seen a couple of real dogs as well, but that's part of the experience.)

But perhaps the best Leicester Square ticket was for the only show that happened to have a Sunday matinee. We were faced with amusing ourselves or going to see a production of the playArt, which I knew almost nothing about, other than that it had a rotating cast and the "name" star for the show currently running in London was Judd Hirsch. It turned out to be my favorite play of all we had seen on that trip.

The plot sounds kind of silly. It's a cast of three. The main character, Hirsch, has purchased a painting that he is thrilled about. It has cost him a very large sum of money and he invites his friends to see the huge painting which, when it is revealed is a white canvas. All white. Hirsch raves and raves about how much it means to him and his friends try to point out what a dumb painting it is. Somehow this keeps your interest over two acts and at the end, when the light shifts to focus on the painting, on a mostly darkened stage, it takes your breath away. You suddenly see what Hirsch's character saw in the painting. It's nothing you can describe; you have to experience it. I could not believe how moved I was by it.

The play pretty much explains my relationship with art. I'm one of those people who knows what I like, but can't tell you why. I might like a Van Gogh as much as the painting of a decanter of wine and a glass, which sits on my mother's wall, and which was painted by a neighbor many years ago. I can't tell you why I like the things that I like. I liked Thomas Kincaide before he became the Carolyn Keene of the art world (she was the supposed author of the Nancy Drew mystery books, but was really a whole bunch of writers mass produced books under that name). What I liked in his paintings was how he handled light...which made me a real sucker for the old Dutch masters and the beautiful contrast between light and dark in their paintings (especially when seen up close and personal)

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Basically, I don't understand "art" and don't know what to look for, I just know what I like, but I can be transported away by beautiful sea scapes, transfixed by most of the Impressionists, and even mesmerized by the big eyes of Keane paintings.

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One of my very favorite art experiences was touring the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. Van Gogh is the only artist I've ever "studied" (as much as I study anything) and had read books about him and actually knew what I was looking at when I took the tour of all the paintings.

I often wish I could discuss "art" in some sort of intelligent manner, but basically I just like pretty pictures, or pictures that move me, or pictures that make me smile.

I suppose that that's better than nothing!