Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Infamous Tour

A few weeks ago, I had an e-mail from someone I'd "met" on Facebook, saying that she and her son were going to be in San Francisco and wondering if we could meet face to face. Naturally I offered to give them my San Francisco tour.

So today I drove down to the Holiday Inn, a few blocks from where I grew up, along Fisherman's Wharf and I met Nicole and Benjamin and we started our day together. Benjamin, 14, had worried that I might be an axe murderer, but I promised his mother that I would leave (most of) my knives at home.

Not only did I leave my knives at home, though, I also, unfortunately, left my camera at home, and so this report does not come with the usual collection of photos, only a few that I took with my cell phone.

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It was kind of an odd day even before I left Davis, because I had received an e-mail from Char saying she had just made reserations for her and Mike, Walt and me, on a cruise in China next year and that a deposit must be made by tomorrow. We hadn't really discussed this trip, other than very peripherally. She said she would call me in an hour ("to let the shock wear off"). I e-mailed back that I would be gone, but that she should call Walt, who would be waiting for her call.

So Nicole, Benjamin and I set off on our tour, down along San Francisco's Marina, up Doyle Drive to the Presidio and down to Fort Point, under the Golden Gate Bridge, then out the Presidio through Sea Cliff (and past Robin Williams' house). As we were leaving Sea Cliff I had a call from Char, saying she had talked to Walt and that we were set and that she thought she had talked him into the extension trip to Hong Kong. While I was talking to her, Walt called, so I pulled over at a Golden Gate Bridge view spot to talk to him while Nicole and her son took some photos.

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When I got off the phone, we had decided to do both the China cruise and the extension to Hong Kong. Since we hadn't even thought about China before this, that was one snap decision. It's nice that we have Char around to plan our lives for us. She does such a good job of it!

My little local tour group continued on past the Palace of the Legion of Honor down to the ocean beach and past the Cliff House. We stopped for lunch at the Beach Chalet Brewery and Restaurant. This place is a definite viable alternative to Greens, which is closed on Mondays. It has a spectacular ocean view and the food is quite good.

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I had--what else?--Crab Louis, which was delicious. Benjamin had fish and chips that were huge and looked fantastic. For dessert I had a creme brulee while Nicole and Benjamin shared the Chalet's apparently signature "castle" dessert, which was a study in chocolate indulgence, with a pathway of chopped peanuts leading up to the castle itself.

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While we ate, we tried to figure out if that animal in the parking lot was a cat or a fox. With no camera, I wasn't able to zoom in and check it close up.

When lunch was finished, we continued the tour through Golden Gate Park, the Haight-Ashbury, and up to Twin Peaks, though by this time the fog was so thick you could barely see the road, so scenic views were totally lost. But we went down the other side, and through the Castro District to Dolores Street, where I showed them the old Mission (first building built in the city), then down Market St. to Filbert and up past Davies Symphony hall, the opera house, and City Hall, up Geary St to go past the washing machine agitator that is St. Mary's Cathedral, out Geary St to Divisidero and then up and down one of the steep hills (it's always such an impressive hill that I never warn the guests that I have an ever steeper hill farther on!) and to the Palace of Fine Arts.

And then we headed for Lombard Street and the crooked street, which was totally mobbed by tourists today. Up Leavenworth St. to point out the flat where I was raised and then around again to Filbert Street, the steepest hill in the city (a 31.5% grade--there is another hill in the city which is the same steepness, but none steeper), and then down to Columbus Ave and back to their hotel.

I had a marvelous time and found Nicole and her son to be delightful people. I'm batting 1,000 with meeting friends from the Internet!

After I left them, I went home over the Golden Gate Bridge, expecting to hit pockets of rush hour traffic, since it was 5 p.m. but I didn't hit heavy traffic anywhere. I was almost disappointed, since I'm so close to finishing my latest Diana Gabaldon novel (audiobook version) and would have enjoyed being stuck in traffic for awhile!

Fortunately, I had thought to do a crock pot dinner, so I didn't have to cook after I got home. And then I had the evening free to check out the itinerary for our next trip! (Did I mention that we're going to China next May?)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Late Night Emmys Again

I was already sorry before the opening number ended, but I was really sorry when Kyra Sedgwick got up to accept her best lead actress award, that I hadn't gotten out the laptop and blogged the Emmys, as I have done in some previous years.

But it was 10 p.m., I was under Polly, and just too lazy to get up to do it.

It would have been easy. I was watching a recording of the show anyway. I was so into it that I sat up until midnight, when the last award had been given out, before I would let myself turn on the computer. I didn't want any accidental spoilers.

Actually, Kyra Sedgwick's win was sort of an unintentional accidental spoiler. I was fast forwarding through the commercials and went too far, stopping as she was getting up to go to the stage, but I did back up and see the whole thing as it happened.

God, I'm such a TV geek.

So I don't have a long blogging retrospective of the show, but I will mention a few stand out moments for me. First, the opening was brilliant. I suggest to people who like television, if you didn't see the show, try to find a video of it on YouTube. I can't imagine it's NOT going to be posted. Oh...I was right. Here it is right here. And when I checked it (midnight) it had already had >300 views.

Next, I was thrilled beyond belief at Jane Lynch's win for supporting actress in a comedy. I have been a fan of Jane Lynch since before anybody had ever heard of her. I've enjoyed watching her get bigger and bigger roles and tonight's win was well deserved. I loved it that she mentioned her wife and their daughter. Yay, California! (at least when they had that window to marry).

Great to hear that at the "other" nighttime Emmy award show, Betty White won an award for her hosting of Saturday Night Live. I swear that lady is more popular now than she was during The Golden Girls years! I love it. (Also loved that Neil Patrick Harris won for his guest spot on Glee...best guest appearances of the lot IMO)

I noticed that about 3 actresses in a row, either winners or presenters, were wearing black dresses with one shoulder strap. I was beginning to wonder if there was a dress code and that all actresses were supposed to wear black.

I really kinda miss the good old days when you could trash what people wore. Now they all look glamorous. The only dress I had a quarrel with was on January Jones, who looked like she either couldn't decide if she wanted to wear something long or something short--or that she had been attacked by a scissors-wielding terrorist on her way into the show. Didn't have a bit of the style of Betty, Don Draper's now ex-wife.

Oh yes and there was the director or writer or something that almost had a wardrobe malfunction. I was more drawn to the precariously perched bodice than to what she was saying. All I can say is that dress must have had incredible architecture to keep it up, 'cause you just knew those golden globes were about to pop out at any moment.

But then Kyra Sedgwick won for best actress in a drama series. Each year that The Closer has been on, I've been sure she was going to take home the Emmy, and disappointed that she never did. Her win tonight brought a temporary end to the parade of black, as she wore a subdued, but purple colored dress.

And even tho I wasn't a fan of Conan O'Brien and adore Jon Stewart, I'm kind of sorry that The Daily Show got the award and not O'Brien for late night talk shows. O'Brien deserved something for what he went through with the Tonight Show. But I suppose the prolonged ovation when his name was called was nice recognition (that and the apparent snubbing of Jay Leno).

For most of the rest of the awards, I was kind of neutral. I watch so many of those shows and like so many of the shows and the actors that I would have been happy with any of them winning. I'm sorry I have never watched Breaking Bad and don't even know what it's about. But I was very happy with all the attention given to Modern Family. It was a toss-up for me whether I wanted that show or Glee to get best comedy. I think Glee won it last year, so I'm happy for Modern Family's win this year.

It was also nice that Top Chef took best reality show. I love Amazing Race and have been happy to see it win year after year, but it was good to see some other show taking the prize this year.

Cooking shows are becoming so popular these days that I wonder how long it's going to take the academy to add an award for best cooking show.

The lyrics to Jewel's song about her friend who died of cancer made a nice background for the yearly "who died this year" bit, but I hated her rendition of it.

But all in all, this was a good program, I thought, as such things go. There are always good and bad moments, but I enjoyed it and was happy for (most of) the winners.

As for why I was watching the awards on DVR instead of live, we went to Ned & Marta's for dinner. It was Jeri and Phil's last night here. We thought of doing our traditional "family movie night" but everyone was still tired from yesterday, so we just all kind of lazed around our respective houses all day (I watched the last 3 episodes of Persons Unknown so I could see the season finale before I read about it somewhere) and then Walt and I went over to Ned & Marta's to visit a bit, order some food from a take-out place, and have dinner.

Then we drove Jeri and Phil to the airport to catch their 10:45 flight back to Boston.

Tomorrow life gets back to normal, sort of, though my schedule for the week is going to be a little skewed too.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Double Header

I feel like we've been to a double-header today! The morning was quiet enough, ending with taking Polly for her weekly torture--3 hours at Petco. I had arranged for Ashley to bring her back home again, since we would be at a family reunion.

The reunion was held at the home of my cousin's daughter (is that my second cousin or first cousin once removed? I can never remember). Anyway, Denise lives in a beautiful small home in Petaluma that has a fabulous garden that my mother has been raving about for years.

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Unfortunately, I didn't see too much of the garden. It's terraced up the back of a hill and I could see everything in bloom farther up, but I'm such a klutz and nearly fell off my Birkinstocks just getting to the first level, that I didn't go up farther.

This wasn't one of the blow-out reunions where people fly from halfway across the country to attend. With very few exceptions, everyone who was there was directly related to my cousin Shirley (well, we all are, but I meant her daughters and their spouses, brother and grandchildren). That was a pretty big group right there. But there were a few of us "not quite so closely related" people too, like Peach and Bob and their daughter Karen.

But we were there to do a little visiting, barbeque some bratwurst and have a quick dinner. There are already plans for next year's reunion, at a place several miles north, in the redwood country. The plan is for it to be 3 days and the facility has cabins and kitchen facilities and all that sort of good stuff.

UncleVito.jpg (18290 bytes)We couldn't stay long because of the concert tonight by the Preoccupied Piers, which was being held from 6-9 at a pizza parlor in Davis. We knew we would be late and would miss the first set by Adrian West. Not only were we getting to town at 6:30, we had to stop off at the house first and feed the dogs.

We got to the pizza parlor just as Adrian was finishing his set.

It was like old home week. I swear I knew 1/3 of all the people in the place. My friend Ruth, with whom I have lunch at a downtown restaurant every two weeks, was there; my Lexulous buddy Jess was there. The kids' old math teacher was there. Walt's sister was there. Lots of old Lawsuit groupies were there. Paul's old boss was there. Some other people I knew in town were there.

PPBB.jpg  (78896 bytes)I even saw one of the midwives I used to work with, who had been taking her grandson to get some ice cream, heard the music and came in to see what was going on. Aiden, the grandson, had never seen live music being played before and was mesmerized.\

Unforunately, the midwife, who was always one of my favorite people and whom I have not seen in a long time, managed to leave before I saw her. I would like to have spoken with her a little bit, but I'm glad that she at least stopped in to see what all the commotion inside the pizza parlor was!

Walt's sister had a great time, dancing with Ned and with Jeri at various times.

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Marta sang a love song that she dedicated to Mr. Tashima, their high school math teacher, because she said that she and Ned had fallen in love in his class. (I can't remember if Ned got good grades or not in that class!)

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It was just a really fun night. It's always fun when the kids get together to perform again. One of my favorite things this time was looking down on the floor and seeing the band members' children sitting there watching.

We came home to happy dogs. Today Buttercup began eating like a real dog. She takes so much of Bella's food that I finally gave her her own bowl today (I think Bella got most of that too, but Buttercup is on her way to being a toddler, not just a baby).

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Bit of Jeri

It was nice having Jeri around, however briefly. Of course she's still here, but she has moved from my mother's house to our house and now to Ned's house, to meet Phil (who was driving down from Oregon with his Uncle Mike). The band Preoccupied Pipers, which is playing in a little pizza joint in downtown Davis tomorrow night, will be rehearsing from now until I next see them all, tomorrow night.

But she spent last night here and in the morning, despite Polly's barking, made friends with her via treats (Polly was never exactly comfortable around her, but she did let her pet her).

She took Sheila out for a long walk and then went on Walt's bike for a long bike ride and a hair trim. In between those two things, I fixed waffles for breakfast, even though it wasn't Wednesday. I made these waffles, from Davis Life Magazine and they turned out great--crispier than other waffles I've made. It also made a ton. We each had two waffles, Jeri and I each ate a third an hour or so later as a snack, and I froze four waffles for a later breakfast.

She also got acquainted with Buttercup.

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As puppies do, Buttercup is growing up quickly. Last week she slept most of the time, but now if there is any activity going on in the house (or if we are just coming in the front door), she runs and joins the others to see what's going on.

I've been trying to give her the kind of puppy mash I start all the puppies on when I am trying to wean them. She's been unenthusiastic in her response, other than licking my finger a couple of times and maybe giving a half-hearted lick at the bowl. But later toay I saw this.

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She had stuck her head in Bella's bowl and was eating (at least until Bella growled and she moved away). Later, I found her in the kitchen eating out of the dog food bowl there. Oh, she's not weaned yet, but now that I know she will eat kibble, I'll stop mixing mash for her and just give her the opportunity to learn how to eat dry dog food.

Jeri returned from her bike trip in the mid-afternoon and already, so soon, packed up her stuff and said goodbye to all the dogs, before heading out to the car.

Walt drove her to Sacramento. We'll see her tomorrow night at the concert and then on Sunday, we'll have dinner at Ned & Marta's house and then take Jeri and Phil to the Sacramento airport on our way home.

They will be back in Boston in time to celebrate their 2nd wedding anniversary with Lester, whom I know they miss.

They make this whirlwind trip every August and how lucky that they do, because, even though it's always a short visit, Jeri is so incredibly good about making sure that she spends quality time with everybody in the area while she can.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bonjour, Ciao

Tonight we had a reunion of the group that went to France and Italy. Well, not exactly a reunion of the whole group, but Char and her daughters, Jeri and myself, and Sheri, who is the mother of Ashley (who brought "Bongo," the stuffed monkey on the trip), all got together. (Pat was supposed to come too, but things got too complicated and she was unable to join us.) The occasion was that Jeri was in town and what better way to celebrate?

The day started with my taking Polly to the vet to see about starting her on Prozac, which she probably will do next week, in the hope of mellowing her out to allow her to actually make friends with a potential forever family. After hearing her story, the vet looked at me for a long time and said "YOU can't adopt her, huh?" A logical question, since she's lived here 9 months already. Jeri is convinced we should adopt her. I'm not convinced and I know Walt really isn't convinced.

Polly shook like a leaf all the way to the doctor, and fell asleep in my lap on the ride home. I'm hoping Prozac will help that a bit.

Anyway, I then got in the car and took off for the Bay Area. Jeri was at my mother's and I was meeting them for lunch. Except that I got stopped on the highway for a good 30 minutes due to an accident somewhere up ahead. I was an hour later than I wanted to be when I arrived, but we had a nice lunch, a nice visit, and then took pictures before we left.

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Then Jeri and I took a leisurely drive over to Charlotte's house, which included meandering through the UC Berkeley campus and reminiscing about my memories of being there in the 60s. We avoided the always horrible back-up line of traffic going through the Caldecott tunnel by going over the mountain, which was also fun.

We got to Char's not horrendously early and sat around chatting until the others arrived. We had wine and clam dip and other hors d'oeuvres and it was just really nice seeing everybody again.

There were few of us so that we could all fit in one car.

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We went to an Italian restaurant, Incontro, which had been reviewed by Check Please, Bay Area, and which lived up to the praise it received on that television show. The wait staff in particular was very friendly and one cheery waiter took a group photo for us.

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The food was good (my gnocci with truffle oil was fabulous, if not exactly photogenic), we laughed a lot, shared memories and updates on current events. Just a wonderful, relaxing evening with good friends, after which Jeri and I drove back here to Davis.

All in all a very good day.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Important Stuff

It was Ned's birthday, and we were going to treat him and Marta to dinner at a restaurant in Sacramento, but first I had to finish my origami article.

This is the article for which I did several interviews, and attended a class. It was supposed to be published about now, actually, but the origami meeting was moved up to the beginning of the month, so we decided to postpone the article until their September meeting.

I spent the day going over my interviews and researching origami on the web. It's incredible what you learn when you go into something like this cold. If you ever have nothing better to do, just Google "Origami" and see what sorts of things you come up with. You'll be amazed at what you learn.

1stSchool.jpg (118836 bytes)While I was working, I got a message from Tom, with this picture attached. This is Brianna on her way to her first day at pre-school. Big Day. I told Tom before he knew it, he would be walking her down the aisle on her wedding day!

(note that not only is she carrying a huge lunch box, but she is also wearing a backpack! A lot of responsibility for a 2-1/2 year old!)

Laurel reports that she had a great first day.

She had a moment when she realized we weren't coming with her, and apparently another when the teacher left, but they said she played really independently - just needed to see her teacher to make sure someone... was still there for her! I'm actually glad she had such an awareness! I got there and she beamed "Mommy came back for you!"

I told Laurel it would probably be best if we didn't tell Brianna that her Daddy had cried for two weeks whenever I dropped him off at school. (Of course that was kindergarten, not preschool. I remember the crossing guard promised to keep an eye on him for me, and when I walked back up to school to pick him up each day, the guard would let me know how long he cried before he finally settled down. Loved that crossing guard!)

The origami article got finished and turned in and with that done and the review of 42nd Street finished and turned in at the crack of dawn, I was feeling rather productive, so unusual for me!

We had made plans to meet Ned and Marta at P.F. Chang's restaurant in Sacramento at 7:30. Nice that it was later rather than earlier, since this had been a 108-degree day in Sacramento and by 7:30 it was finally below 100.

P.F. Chang's is kind of an upscale Chinese bistro with a menu that caters to the tastes that Americans have for Oriental foods (i.e., nothing "unusual sounding" on the menu!)

We had a big spread that included crab won ton, spring rolls, wok seared lamb, vegetarian double fried noodles, coconut vegetarian curry and crispy honey shrimp with walnuts.

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We were all pretty much stuffed when we finished dinner, but they have adopted the lead of Applebees and serve little shot-glass sized desserts (I wonder, now that I'm so fluent in "chef" from watching all the Top Chef shows, if this is kind of a dessert version of an amuse bouche). Each is only $2 and is just the perfect thing to have at the end of a big meal--enough to make you think you've had something sweet, but not so much that you feel bloated after finishing it.

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Ned and Walt each had this little apple pie treat while Marta and I each had a raspberry cheesecake.

(I should also note that Ned is nearing the end of his toothless period. He is finally having his new permanent front teeth attached in the next few weeks)

The evening was just very nice and we were home before 10. Perfect.

Thursday Thirteen

Favorite things in London

1. The Museum of the City of London
2. Charing Cross Rd. book stores
3. West End Theaters
4. The half price ticket booth at Leicster Square
5. Foyles!
6. The church of St. Martin in the Fields
7. Easy Everything (internet cafes)
8. Highgate Cemetery
9. Sir John Soane museum
10. Covent Garden
11. The V&A Museum
12. Selfridges
13. The Wellington Pub

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Scaring White People

For those who are not fans of Rachel Maddow (and if you aren't, why not?), I have done you the favor of embedding this snippet from her news program last night.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy \

Last night Rachel Maddow examined the growing frenzy over the "Ground Zero Mosque" and relates it to recent scares that so many have gone frothing at the mouth over.

I've been watching this mosque debate since it all started, shaking my head all the time about some of the ludicrous statements that have been made. One guy said he didn't want a terrorist training camp built at Ground Zero. So...uh...they should train their terrorists at, say, Central Park?

Everybody has talked about how it is being built AT Ground Zero, when, in fact, it is projected for a couple of blocks away (it's a Catholic church that is right at Ground Zero). No matter how you feel about the project, this frenzy is way premature. According to Harpers Weekly, the mosque doesn't even have an engineer, an architect, or a blueprint yet, or, "according to their most recent disclosure, $99,981,745 of the $100 million they intend to raise."

But in spite of war in Afghanistan, unemployment, house forclosures, e.coli, and a host of really serious problems, we are once again listening to the fear-meisters who are making us distrust our friends and neighbors,

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A guy on the nightly news tonight is trying to prevent a mosque from being built in his South Carolina neighborhood because he sees that the faithful will block the parking places of his florist business. When they asked if he would mind if a Christian church would be built there he said it would be no problem because the faithful would dutifully park in the parking lot, but the Muslims have no respect for the rules of law.

Somebody in...is it in Florida?...wants to outlaw Islam as a religion in this country, founded on freedom of religion, and arrest anybody who professes to be a Muslim. (Heck, if they're going to start outlawing religions, can we please put the Westboro Baptist Church on the list?)

So many of the objections that are being made against mosques across the country claim that Islam is a religion of violence and hate. (Well, not yet, but we may drive them to it!)

Will anybody be surprised when the first bomb is hurled at the first mosque somewhere in this country, or a fire is set at a mosque somewhere?

I really hope you watched the Maddow video because she does a wonderful job of pointing out the various cause célèbres that we have endured, all of which have targeted some minority group or person for villification, too often resulting in a bad end for the targetee, even if later the charges are proven to be without merit.

I mean...think of the job they did on Shirley Sherrod. The charges against her were so egregious that she had to be called on her cell phone and fired while she was driving her car. Nobody bothered to do any investigation. Not even the White House.

The history of all these scandals-that-aren't would be funny if it weren't so sad.

My own feelings about the Islamic center is that not only should it be built where planned, two blocks from Ground Zero, but the building should be a community affair, involving members of all religions coming together in one big, healing, "really getting to know you" project, with the Baptists supplying the casseroles.

Christiane Amanpour interviewed a rabbi and someone from the proposed mosque on her show on Sunday. It was the most reasonable, rational discussion I've heard since this whole thing started.

I'm sure nobody currently frothing at the mouth about terrorist muslims saw it.

I hate what some of us are becoming in this country.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Speaking Dog

P1130685.jpg (136681 bytes)Generally I have a pretty good understanding of our dogs, even the fosters who are here for longer than a week or so. We have, over the years, developed a good way of communicating with each other.

Most of it is non-verbal, a certain look in the eyes or a tilt in the head. Polly has figured out that if she wants me to either feed her or go to sleep with her at night, and if putting her paws on my knees doesn't work, going out in the back yard, standing on the patio and barking will.

She doesn't yap-yap-yap as if there were something scary that she needs to scare away. No, it's more like Bark... (did she hear me? Is she coming? No? OK then) Bark again... About every 10-15 seconds. As soon as I stand up from my desk and begin walking into the family room, she is already coming back into the house because I've gotten the message.

So there are times when I think I'm not exactly fluent, but at least conversant in Dog.

But this Bella dog. She doesn't speak the same dialect. I am having a devil of a time trying to figure out what she wants.

And she very definitely wants something. For one thing she seems to be hungry every waking moment. I have been giving her considerably more food than the other dogs, but I think that at first her seemingly insatiable appetite was because she was nervous being in a new home. She would eat all that food and then see if anybody else had left anything in their bowls.

But I think we may have finally gotten her stomach to "normal" status. But I still can't quite figure out what she wants most of the time. She is on a forever hunt to see what she can find on the kitchen counters.

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Whenever I am upright, she definitely wants something, but I don't know what. Tonight she spent a long time trying to overturn her food bowl (with all the food in it). I don't have a clue why.

However watching her playing with Buttercup is really a lovely thing. They have a couple of playtimes during the day and right before shutting down for the night. I love how gentle she is with her, though if she's eating, she will definitely give her "what for" if she tries to investigate. Buttercup has gone out the back door a couple of times and Bella is right there, nudging her around in a circle until she's facing the door again, and then the puppy waddles back in the house.

There have already been inquiries about adopting Bella, as Ashley predicted, so she will probably be adopted as soon as Buttercup is weaned.

To that end, I started trying to give Buttercup solid food today. Trying to find a place to feed her that is NOT immediately surrounded by dogs hoping to steal a snack is difficult. The first feeding did not go well and Bella ended up eating it all instead of the puppy. Then Walt went out and got puppy food, which I blended with a bit of formula and warm water. I took her in the bathroom to give it to her. She wasn't the least interested in the food bowl, but would take some food if I gave it to her on my finger. However, after three fingersful of food, she was bored with it. When I put her back in the cage, Bella followed her and Buttercup immediately started nursing.

I intend to give her solids three times a day, hoping to get her to start taking enough that it would be OK for Bella to find a forever home. It's hard to gauge what Buttercup should be doing because she's so huge that I forget she's really only 3 weeks old, and all the former puppies I've raised never started eating solids until about 4 weeks.

It would be nice if I could discuss all this with Bella, but we don't seem to speak the same language.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Immobility and Perpetual Motion

I was all excited when Tom suggested we meet him and Brianna at my Mother's on Sunday afternoon, while Laurel went to a bridal shower. We got on the road early and were looking forward to seeing everyone when we came to this.

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The road that goes from Highway 80, which we take from Davis, to Highway 101, where my mother is goes across the delta on Highway 37, a 2 lane road (one lane in each direction). On a normal day it takes about 30 minutes and traffic moves pretty well.

This weekend, however, they were having the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma and the only way to get there was to take Highway 37. Infineon Raceway is somewhere beyond that "x" and it was obviously going to take us forever to get there (the race is such a big deal that Danica Patrick was there...). Fortunately, from this point, we had not yet reached the point of no return, so Walt decided to turn around and go back from whence we had come, drive farther down 101 and take the Richmond Bridge. When we turned around, this is what we saw.

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The backup from where we had come was not much longer.

Taking the bridge was not exactly a shortcut, and it took us two hours total to get to my mother's, where it normally takes an hour. But Tom and Laurel weren't there yet. When I called them on their cell phone I discovered that they were stuck in the racetrack traffic. It was another 30 minutes before they arrived.

But they did arrive and I gave Bri the toys we'd brought her from Russia, which she seemed to like.

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Laurel raced off to her friend's bridal shower while we had lunch with my mother, after which Ga-Ga (Bri's name for my mother) served ice cream cones.

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(she wasn't sure about the chocolate chips!)

We decided to try to wear her out, so we took off for the playground, which was at the far end of the lagoon near my mother's house. Everyone had a great time, especially Bri. In The Music Man Harold Hill asks Tommy Djilas if he ever played around with perpetual motion. "I almost had it a couple of times," Tommy says. Well, if Tommy had been able to harness Miss Bri's energy today, he could finally have succeeded! She never stopped.

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She kept Grandpa and Daddy running around, doing her bidding for at least half an hour. (Incidentally, she was afraid to swing in Tom's lap unless he held her, which made it difficult for him to pump the swing, so Walt pushed his kid on the swing while his kid held his kid! I loved this photo!)

The Video of the Day shows the circuit that Bri made at this little playground. Up on structure, down one side, up another structure, down another slide, onto a bouncing frog and then back to the first structure again. She did this at least a couple of dozen times -- long after Daddy and Grandpa were tired!

Eventually she was getting tired, so we completed the loop around the lagoon, heading back to Ga-Ga's house.

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I'm sure Brianna would have gone to sleep right away, but they had to keep her awake until Laurel got back from the bridal shower, so she would sleep in the car.

(I should add parenthetically that I know some will complain that there are no pictures of me with Bri and that's because I was the one taking the photos. Jeri keeps telling me to put the camera down and get involved, BUT taking pictures is what I do and what I enjoy AND this was the very first time in her life that Bri came up to me and asked to sit in my lap so she could look at the pictures of herself in the camera.)

Walt and I left shortly after Tom et al. and, knowing we would get the raceway crowd going home if we tried to take 37 again, Walt decided to take an alternate route. Unfortunately, the alternate route took us by the back entrance to the race track and it didn't save us any time at all. We crept along at 5 mph for long stretches of the road and in the end, it took us more than 2 hours to get home.

I'm not going anywhere near a car tomorrow...and I wasn't even driving!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Honorary Geezer

Now my friend Ron guffawed when I posted to Facebook that I was going to be an honorary geezer tonight...and I can see where his guffaw came from, but the "honorary geezer" had nothing to do with my being old, which I admit to being. I can be a geezer all on my own.

But there are a group of Lamplighter men who have decided to call themselves "the Geezers," (because they all are). They go out to dinner once a month...or whenever anybody remembers to arrange something. They recently invited Walt, who may be the oldest of them all, to join them, which he was happy to do.

The first Geezer event took place tonight, and included dinner at Chevy's and then seeing Pirates of Penzance for the umpteenth time. Since this evening included a show, women were invited to come along, hence, I and three other women were honorary Geezers.

Traffic was horrendous driving to the City. We were bumper to bumper for about half an hour while we saw emergency vehicles (which seemed to all be fire engines), but no smoke anywhere. And then, as those sorts of things so often do, when we reached a certain point, the log jam broke and it was clear sailing. We never did figure out what the hold up was, and all the emergency equipment had disappeared.

Things were fine until we got to a bit before Berkeley, when the freeway became a parking lot. I was sure that we were going to miss dinner, and angry with myself for forgetting to bring my cell phone, which had Will's phone number in it. Walt had his phone, but he didn't know Will's cell phone number. We really are geezers!

Dinner was lovely and it was fun sitting at the end of the table with two people I rarely get to visit with, since I'm usually at the other end of the table. We shared traveling stories, since I'd been to Russia, Roger had been to Switzerland and Gil had been to Germany.

And then after dinner we walked across the street to the theatre for Pirates. Seeing Gilbert & Sullivan for the umpteenth time isn't the same as seeing, say, Annie or Sound of Music for the 6th or 7th time and having to review it yet again. Seeing Gilbert & Sullivan at the Lamplighters is something we do on compulsion. Yes, we've seen the shows dozens, if not hundreds of times before, but it's part of our lives and so we go, yet again. Even to Pirates or Pinafore. But I admit that my attention did wander at times.

When I see a Lamplighter show now, since I know almost nobody in the cast any more, I think back on the Lamplighter actors who have defined certain roles for me over the years. This train of thought started in Act 2, when Frederick and Mabel are saying goodbye to each other, singing "Ah leave me not to pine..." The actors tonight were fine, but I have never seen anybody in the Lamplighters get as much out of that scene as Robert Wood and Rosemary Bock. There was something absolutely magical about the scene whenever they played it togther. Despite the fact that nobody in my entire life has ever hurt me as cruelly and as deliberately as Woody did a few years later, I have to give the devil his due. He was a damn good actor. On the stage.

He returned for one Lamplighters show a few years ago. I uncharitably admit to being pleased to see he was now chubby and that the bald spot he tried so hard to cover up for so many years, was now definitely a bald spot. Walt talked with him after the show. I couldn't. I snuck out the back door and went to the car and cried. Old hurts, I've discovered, never die.

We were fortunate to see many definitive Lamplighter performances. I thought that nobody could ever do Bunthorne in Patience as well as Orva Hoskinson, the co-founder of the company, until many years later when Lawrence Ewing came along, another long, tall drink of water with a body that could droop poetically. It's high praise to say that Lawrence is the only person in the role who can hold a candle to Orva's performance.

But though there were many women I loved as Jane, also in Patience, nobody ever quite gave her the heft of June Wilkins, who even played the cello--just badly enough that is was perfect for the role. June was an amazing talent and surprisingly humble when I interviewed her when we wrote Book 1. She seemed surprised that anybody would care what she had to say.

And of course there was only one Ko-Ko for me in The Mikado. It was Gilbert's best role and I'm sorry that there was never a really good video of him at his best. There is a video of his last performance, but he was tired of performing by then and even he didn't feel it was his best. Still better than most, but not up to the standards of the previous time he did it. The ideal Lamplighters Mikado would have had Gilbert as KoKo, John Ziaja as the Mikado, and Jean Ziaja or June Wilkins as Katisha. The rest of the cast didn't matter. If you had those you had the best.

We got home around 11:30 and as we were driving up the block to our house, I had Walt stop because there was a raccoon by the sidewalk. By the time I got my camera out and the window down, he had slipped down into the water drain, but I did get this picture

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I was pleased to find Buttercup asleep in the cage when we got home. Last night at 2 a.m. she managed to get out of the cage and got herself caught under Walt's chair (her body is so fat and so solid she can't squeeze under anything). Her whining and Bella's leaping up and down woke me up. I was afraid all day that something like that would happen while we were gone today, but it didn't. Everybody seems to have survived the day unscathed.

So it's 1 a.m. and this geezer (honorary or not) is heading off to sleep for the night, hoping that we have no disasters until morning. Besides, Polly has learned that when she wants me to go to sleep, all she has to do is run outside and start barking.

Damn dog.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bella and Buttercup

Shiloh howled all night last night. I finally got up at 4 and took him outside, but all he wanted to do was play. It took about 30 minutes before I was able to get him to calm down and go back to sleep in my lap. We managed to sleep until 8 a.m....amazing!

But he woke up feeling very happy. He had been neutered the day before and was drugged when he came home last night, but now the drugs had worn off and he was ready to PLAY. But he can't play. It's not time for him to be out on his broken leg yet, so it was a struggle. I put him on my lap, as I have done ever since he had his surgery, but he was feeling too good for that and only wanted to jump off, which would be worse than running all over the place.

I finally put him in the cage, and of course he whined and whined and whined. Then my salvation came. Ashley wrote to say that there was a 2 year old Boston Bull Terrier being turned in at the Shelter by a single mom, recently hospitalized, who has MS and who is being evicted from her house and can't keep the dog (or the dog's 3 week old puppy). Would I like to trade Shiloh for the Mom and pup? I said yes, I would.

Walt and I drove out to the shelter to get the crate with the dog and her puppy in it. They told me the Mom's name was Bella, but the puppy hadn't been named yet. They didn't even know if it was male or female.

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We drove home, while I tried to talk to the dog in the crate.

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There was maximum butt sniffing that went on when Bella arrived and she was happy to be out in the yard, sniffing and exploring everywhere.

I gave her water and some food, but she wasn't interested in food in the bowl; she sniffed kibble that had rolled under the playpen that is kept in the family room and she flattened her body as much as possible and managed to get all of that scarfed up.

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After the initial welcoming frenzy died down and everybody was content to all be together, I locked the four dogs (Sheila, Lizzie, Polly and Bella) outside, left Shiloh in the cage, and decided to check out the puppy. Bella was very interested.

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I had thought I would name the pup Blossom if it was female and Merlin if it was male (because I know an actress named Bella Merlin). But the little female puppy I pulled out of the cage was such a roly poly thing that I decided to name her Buttercup instead.

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Her mom is purebred Boston Bull terrier, but Daddy must have been a pit bull because this puppy looks like every single pit bull puppy we've ever had.

While we were waiting for Ashley to come, Walt had a chance to cuddle with Shiloh for one last time.

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Ashley finally left with Shiloh and peace began to reign around here, with all of the dogs, except Bella, finding a place to sleep. Bella was too interested in exploring her new home -- and we discovered that we'd better make certain to keep all the counters cleared, at least the first 6" from the edge!

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So a new chapter with new dogs begins. We won't have Bella all that long because Ashley says that Bostons are adopted almost as soon as they are advertised. She will go up for adoption as soon as Buttercup is weaned (which should be soon). We will have Buttercup longer because they don't usually put puppies up for adoption until they are 6 weeks old... and then looking so much like a pit bull, who knows how long it's going to take.

I miss sweet little Shiloh, but I have to admit that it sure is nice not to listen to him crying this afternoon!

Friday, August 20, 2010

"Make It Work"

It amazes me that I enjoy Project Runway so much.

As someone who is famous for my lack of prowess with a needle (I don't even sew buttons), the fact that I would sit week after week and watch talented designers make outrageous clothing...and then follow the show season after season, surprises even me. Maybe it's that I enjoy watching people do something that I would like to be able to do.

My mother was a very good seamstress. I don't remember her sewing a lot, but everything she made was wonderful. When our kids were little, she even took a tailoring class and made wonderful clothes for the kids, including a beautifully lined coat for Jeri. I saved that coat to pass down to any granddaughter we might have and, of course, now I can't find it, just as I can no longer find the kids' favorite books, that I carefully put in a box and saved for our grandchildren. Amazing that we never throw anything away in this house, but the things that I really, really intended to pass on to grandchildren are nowhere to be found.

When I was in high school, I took a sewing class. The big project for the class was to make something that we would then wear at a fashion show. I was very girly at the time and I chose a lovely summery dress that had an overskirt to it. I don't remember what the basic dress looked like, but I liked the fact that you could take off the overskirt and make it reversible. There was a pink pattern on one side and white on the other.

My teacher, Sister Mary Bernardone (who was a large woman, who moved slowly, and was famous for saying that the first thing she did each morning was to check the obituaries to find out if she was alive or not), was very excited about my choice of dress and eager to help me get it done for the fashion show.

I got the dress almost all finished and then, in turning the overskirt right side out, after sewing a seam, so that I could add the belt that would attach it to the dress, I managed to rip a long gash right down the front of the white material. There was nothing to do to fix it in time, and so I remember ironing a patch on it, but of course it no longer could be reversed. I remember Sister Mary Bernardone totally losing interest in my sewing after that and I never wore the dress again after the fashion show.

I still cringe when I think of that.

I actually bought a sewing machine when the kids started coming along and I even managed to sew a few outfits for them. As I recall, they never fit right...and I remember the dolphin headpiece that I had to make for a ballet performance for Jeri ("parents will make costumes") which I sewed backwards, which I didn't realize until it was too late to change it.

My heart was in the right place, but I was just totally inept. It was like the two sweaters I made for Walt in the very early days of our marriage when I was knitting tiny garments for Jeri. I made a green sweater with a cable pattern down the front of it--and one sleeve longer than the other. There was also a heavy sweater that was apparently like wearing a heater at all times. He tried them both on and never wore them again (in fact, I think they may still be in a dresser drawer upstairs somewhere).

My big magnum opus, though was a quilt I made during a quilting class I decided to take (ever hopeful that I could find something I could do with a needle!) I decided to make a Superman quilt for Ned, since it was the height of his Superman craze. The teacher of the class was really excited about it because it would really be a standout. I traced a six foot high poster of Superman that Ned had in his room and cut out all the body parts out of fabric that I appliqued on the quilt, including using black velvet for Superman's hair, so it would look more like hair than the rest of the parts of his body.

When time came to finish off the quilt, I mis-measured and cut it too narrow. I had to add strips of fabric on each side of the Superman figure, which ruined the look that the teacher was hoping I would create. Again, a teacher was disappointed in my inability to follow through, though Ned loved the quilt.

It was a quilt Christmas that year. I made quilts for all the kids, Superman for Ned and the others each got quilts decorated with squares of their drawings, which I had ironed on from some special transfer paper. I was very happy with how they turned out, though none of them was as fancy as Ned's. (But each of those was at least the right width)

The last thing I ever made may have been a big quilt that I put together for the California leader of La Leche League. I solicited squares from people all over the state, and I was the one to put it all together. It actually turned out very well and I was pleased with it.

I guess if you're going to give up a craft that you have proven totally inept at doing, it's good to go out winners!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Goodbye Forever, Goodbye!

We have a goodbye ritual when we leave the house. I call out "treat time!" and all the dogs come running to the kitchen and slide to a sitting stop, looking at me. It's amazing how quickly foster dogs learn this routine. Each of the dogs gets a bit of a treat, then I tell them to be good, not to kill the foster dogs, and that we'll be back soon.

When we return, the barking (especially from Polly, who is VERY loud and very bossy) starts as we turn into the drive way. The welcome home treat that they get is a ploy to keep them from running out the front door. Why would you want to run out into the cold, dark night when you know that a yummy treat is waiting for you in the kitchen?

Goodbye rituals started a long time ago, when the kids were little. When we first moved here, Tom, David and Paul were very small and still suffering separation anxiety whenever I left the house. We made it a game. I would get in the car and Walt and whichever kids were around would stand in the driveway and then they would "push" the car down the driveway and yell "good bye! good bye! good bye forever! goodbye forever! goodbye!" (they also sang that to the Blackford kids whenever we left there house after a visit.)

I expected to see something like that at the Iraq/Kuwait border when the last truck of the last combat batallion rolled across the border and into Kuwait.

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A bunch of Iraqis at the border, pushing the vehicles as they crossed and yelling out "good bye! good bye! good bye forever! goodbye forever! goodbye!"

But it was all rather anticlimactic. Yet it seemed like something which was of huge significance. Rachel Maddow, from the former "green zone" (now the "international zone") in Baghdad admitted to having goosebumps all over her body.

The Bush administration entered Iraq with the notion that we were going to bring them the great gift of democracy, to help set up a stable democratic state which would be an anchor for future Middle East negotiations. We are leaving with our unwanted gift of democracy in hand, with the country in rubble, with thousands of fighters and civilians dead, with a government which has met for an entire 12 minutes since it was set up and with the question of whether it was all worth it. One of the generals interviewed today said that it will be left to history to decide that. Probably long after all of us are dead.

There is no doubt that some good came out of all of this. God, I hope so. But it feels as anti-climactic as the departure from the country seems. (Of course we are still leaving behind some >50,000 troops as "advisors.")

Anybody who watched a movie called "To Die in Jerusalem" should have been able to realize that what we set out to do was impossible. Should have been able to figure out that if other invading countries had been unable to bring stability to the region, we probably weren't going to be successful either.

"To Die in Jerusalem" is the story of two young girls (around 19 years old) who are killed in a suicide bombing in a market place in Jerusalem. One girl, Ayat al-Akhras (Palestinian), was the bomber, the other girl, Rachel Levy (Jewish), was the victim.

Two years after the bombing, Rachel's mother decides she wants to have a sit-down, heart-to-heart talk with Ayat's mother, hoping that she could understand Ayat's actions and that maybe the two of them could bring some closure and some peace to each other.

The families of the two girls live less than four miles away from one another, yet it was impossible to get them into the same room. Rachel's mother finally received permission to travel into the refugee camp to meet Ayat's mother, but her film crew was arrested and the mother feared for her life, so she left.

Ayat's mother was fearful of going to Israel but finally agreed to go, and then the Israeli government wouldn’t give her a permit.

The meeting in the film ended up happening through videoconference, which was unsatisfactory because they were unable to touch each other. Both attempted to explain her situation to the other, but they were talking apples and oranges. Ayat's family had been ousted frm their home when the state of Israel was established. They were unable to go "home" again and felt like they were living in a prison. Both families had suffered losses because of the war.

Rachel's mother wanted to understand why her daughter had to die. Ayat's family wanted to defend their daughter's decision and why she was noble to fight for their people's freedom.

In the end neither could understand the other and the talks broke down.

I see this as the whole problem with those who attempt to "fix" the situation in the middle east. We in the west can't possibly understand tribal feelings that go back many generations. We can't understand why people living in the area might like to maintain the familiar. We can't just say "our way is the best way in the world and we're willing to help you achieve it" and expect that the country we have invaded is going to jump for joy at the prospect.

It will be interesting to see what will happen in the coming months and years. I suspect that in the end, nothing will have changed, except a country's infrastructure will have been destroyed and thousands of its citizens killed and maimed in our bumbling attempts to change a way of life that has existed since before our own country was founded.

But at least our combat troops are gone and I'm wondering if somewhere there isn't a crowd of people chanting the equivalent of "good bye! good bye! good bye forever! goodbye forever! goodbye!"

Thursday Thirteen

Things I want which I will probably never get

For the house
1. Shelves in the family room so I can display photos (I’ve been asking for 10 years)
2. A permanently installed gate in the hall to keep the dogs from rushing people coming to visit.
3. An iron mesh gate at the front door, so I can talk to people without having to worry about the dogs running outside
4. Pergo in the living room (I’ve been waiting 3 years)
5. WiFi
6. Repair of the glass in the glass cabinet that David broke when he was in grammar school
7. Repair of the wall that Tom tore out in his sleep in junior high
8. A stainless steel sink that I can bathe dogs in
9. New furniture for the living room

In general
10. A cruise up the inland passage to Alaska
11. Train trip across the Canadian Rockies (been waiting 45 years)
12. A drive across the U.S. (Probably not possible while we have dogs)
13. A drain pipe outside the kitchen window so I can plant things there (I’ve been waiting 35 years)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Long Cool Summer

This is the time of summer when I start really not enjoying Sacramento's Music Circus. It sounds like a good idea--a musical a week for seven weeks, in a nice air conditioned theatre (though--and I know I shouldn't jinx things by saying it--the weather so far this year has been decidedly pleasant. I don't think we've had a single triple-digit day, except what I heard about when we were in Russia).

But when you realize that each run opens on a Tuesday and that when you're a critic, your day starts at 11 p.m. and you can't really go to sleep until you've written your review, the thrill is not quite the same as it is for the average theatre-goer.

Also, I don't know why I hate to go out mid week to drive to Sacramento every week for 7 weeks. It's not like either of us works during the week. Tuesday is pretty much the same as Saturday, all things considered, but somehow it just seems much more work to drive 20 miles on a Tuesday evening than a Saturday evening.

I sure don't know how folks can afford the tickets, those season subscribers--especially people who bring their kids. If you get the season ticket package, it's $300. Each. Single tickets run around $50. It's the reason we never went to Music Circus until I started reviewing and got free tickets. Jeri saw all the shows for two years because she was working for Music Circus as a summer intern.

This season hasn't been too bad. It started with Spamalot, which I'd been wanting to see, since it was so hot on Broadway. The problem is that I have not been a Monty Python fan and so I suspect that a lot of the humor was lost on me. In fact, I had a hard time staying awake. However, the Python fans loved it and would laugh at bits before the actors had gotten the whole first word out.

Spamalot was followed by Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I guess that show is a guilty pleasure of mine. I've seen it several times, both for enjoyment and to review it, and I still enjoy it. And it is amazing to me how different various interpretations of the show can be.

Then came Oklahoma! which I can take or leave. It's OK (no pun intended) and the production was good, but ho-hum...another Oklahoma! It paled in comparison with a professional-quality production we saw at the University last year.

DRS.jpg (17110  bytes)Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has no song you can leave the theatre humming, though the two actors who had the leads were fun and so that made it an enjoyable evening. (Coincidentally, you can find Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Steve Martin and Michael Cain on Encore's movies on demand on ComCast, so I watched at it last night, but fell asleep before it was over.)

Last week's Funny Girl was excellent. I'd never seen it on stage before and the girl doing Fanny Brice looked, sounded, and moved so much like Barbra Streisand that it was almost like seeing "Streisand lite." I thought the whole production was excellent.

The season ends next week with 42nd Street, which will be fun because of all those big production numbers...and all that tap dancing.

Tonight, however, was something weird called The Marvelous Wonderettes, a 4-woman show which looks like it's better suited to cabaret than a large theater.

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The first act takes place at their Senior Prom in 1958 and Act 2 is at a dance for their 10 year reunion. The girls have a singing group and the story, such as it is, is all told through songs, music of the 50s for Act 1 and music of the 60s for Act 2.

I haven't figured out exactly what I thought of it yet, which I'd better do soon because it's already after midnight. It was a lot of fun and the audience seemed to really like it. Maybe it's because it was the 6th week of driving 20 miles to see a musical on a Tuesday night, but I thought it OK, but mediocre.

Incidentally, guess what song they have just sung in the photo above!!! (Hint: It was sung in Act 1)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Great Polly Mystery

I woke up this morning to a Polly mystery.

Last night, the air was cold, so for the first time in a long time, I closed the back door, which is normally left open so the dogs can get out during the night, since I have blocked off the dog door, to keep Polly in. But Shiloh's cage is right by the door and I thought maybe the cool breeze was uncomfortable for him, so I decided to try a night with the door closed.

I went to sleep on the couch in the living room. Polly jumped up and settled herself in on my back, like always, but she was trembling like a tree in a hurricane. She eventually got down and went somewhere else.

At the same time, Shiloh started whining and yapping and I realized I wasn't going to get any sleep in the living room, so I got up and moved to the recliner, taking Shiloh out of the cage and letting him sleep in my lap.

Polly stayed in the living room, which was kind of unusual for her.

Now to backtrack a bit, there was an "incident" in the evening. I am not 100% of which big dog was involved, but based on Polly's reaction today, I've decided it was probably Lizzie. It only lasted the briefest of seconds, a mere eyeblink. On the other side of Walt's chair, where I couldn't see what was happening, there was a very loud growl-bark from the big dog and a very loud yelp-bark from Polly. Nothing more happened and the evening progressed uneventfully.

After we all went to sleep, I was awakened by the sound of Polly kind of yelping and whining at the same time. She was on the dog bed in the family room. Shiloh was in my lap and the big dogs were asleep in the living room. I called her over and she came, slowly, but wouldn't jump up on the chair, so I picked her up. She settled in under my armpit, like always, but was still trembling. Over time, the trembling slowed and then stopped and we all went to sleep.

When I woke up, Polly was not in my lap. She wasn't on the dog bed. She wasn't in Walt's chair (the 3 places where she was most likely to be). When I got up and started moving around, the big dogs came in from the living room, but there was no Polly.

I went all around the house calling her, but no answer. On any other night, I would have suspected she was outside somewhere, but with the door closed, there was no way for her to get out of the house, so she had to be here. I began to have visions of her lying dead somewhere, because I couldn't even hear her whining. I began to panic.

I got a flashlight and went back over all the spaces I'd looked before--in my office, in the closet in the family room, behind the treadmill, in the bathroom and laundry room (whose doors were slightly ajar--maybe she got in and couldn't get out?). But no Polly.

I finally found her, curled up in a ball on a small dog bed that matched her fur color (which was why it was difficult to see her in the dark) behind the couch. She was trembling and didn't get up when I talked to her, but I picked her up and brought her into the family room and put her on my lap. She seemed OK. No signs of anything bad, just the trembling.

I talked to Ashley, who thought maybe she had been hurt on her brief encounter with Lizzie and said she'd check back with me later to see how she was doing.

After awhile the trembling stopped, periodically, but she'd start again for no rhyme or reason. She would eat and occasionally would get up and go outside, but she seemed very subdued. She didn't take off gleefully down the hall chasing the big dogs when they went to attack something outside the window.

I conferred with Ashley in the late morning and she said that Polly might have bruising from whatever happened between her and Lizzie and suggested I give her a bit of Shiloh's pain medicine, which I did.

She seems better, but still...odd. She won't come toward me if Lizzie is in the room, and will just stand far away from me and keep looking at Lizzie. If Lizzie's not here, she will come close, but not jump up. I have to pick her up.

At one point during the morning I thought maybe I'd discovered a new way of toning muscles. Relax in a recliner and put one trembling dog on each leg--the SPCA version of the old vibrating belt.

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Polly gets so freaked so easily, an un-freaked so un-easily that I'm wondering how long it's going to take her to get back to where she was before whatever happened yesterday set her off again.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Remains of the Day

Roni Bennett, the elderblogger who organizes "As Time Goes By," a blog for those of us who are over a certain age, and who writes a good number of its entries recently wrote a probably unintentionally funny entry called "My Bodily Remains," which talked about people's fears about their death.

Roni wasn't concerned about the things we usually think about when we express our fears of death. She was much more practical. She worried about who would see her body after death. "...what if I'm caught dead on a day when I haven't shaved my underarms for a couple of weeks? Or I'm in a favorite shabby shirt I never wear out of the house? Or what if I drop dead before I've had a chance to shower and I'm dirty? How embarrassing."

She goes on to describe a host of possibilities about her eventual death and how it could be embarrassing to her. You should go and read it.

This sparked a lot of wonderful reader comments...

- Geez...and up 'til now I just worried about the clean underwear thing...

- My father, who took care of everything, even managed to have my brother get him to the toilet just before he died so that there would not be a mess in the bed!! Think of that ladies and gentlemen. When we die our system "lets go." (I'll bet that guy was a virgo!)

- I am more concerned about suddenly being taken to the hospital after a day of hard work and not having showered yet. Now that would be embarassing as lots of people see, and smell, your body then. And even if you are in extreme pain and don't care at the time, the picture will come back later to haunt you.

- I'd be more concerned about unexpected hospital admission - do I have a proper nightie, will they lose my teeth, what about these boobs hanging down to my knees. Daft stuff like that.

- I used to tell my daughter to make sure to put my eyebrows on before anyone saw me, if I should die in my sleep

I have my own concerns about my death. My father died while sitting at the dining room table, naked except for one sock, eating watermelon. They didn't find him for 3 days. I think about that any time I sit down to eat alone--be sure to be wearing something appropriate. (Expecially if I'm eating watermelon!)

I also imagine what would happen if I died in the recliner, and the trouble paramedics would have trying to heft my rigamortis-ed body out of the chair.

There was a time when I wanted to donate my body to science (I was probably thinner then!), but then I started seeing movies and reading books about medical students and the cadavers they dissect and decided that I really didn't want to be laid out for literally all the world to see. I didn't want to think of students recoiling in disgust and making jokes as they cut through my fat-laden body. So, sorry, science, but you lose.

We don't often speak of death and our fears and our wishes. My mother is great. She knows she wants to be cremated and buried with her husband. She has already paid for the service and has left instructions for what she wants to happen when she dies. (I'm convinced she's going to die watching TV, either a gin and tonic or an ice cream cone in her hand, depending on whether it's before or after dinner.)

But when we had the last really serious scare about Walt's mother, I finally broached the subject of what was going to happen when she died. Nobody had talked about that or discussed it with her. It upset Walt's sister too much to think about it and she admitted that when "the call" came she didn't have a clue what she would tell the nursing home people about where to take her body. I came up with a suggestion which they finally asked her about a few weeks later. She approved it, so now at least we know what will happen when her time comes.

No question about what I want. Cremation, and burial as close to the kids as we can find a plot. Memorial service and I want Steve to be there to sing "Save me a Seat," though now that he's become big-time theatre and has moved to New York, everybody might have to play a recording instead. But those nachos better be up a wall somewhere.

Perhaps some day for several hours
You'll fill some church with lots of flowers
And display some saintly shot of me somewhere in the hall
Stick a tray of nachos up against the wall....

Then on a day when you feel lost or hurt
Go to the kitchen and get some dessert
Then sit at the table and eat

Just remember to save me a seat
Please remember to save me a seat

How about you? Do you have thoughts about your death? Fears? Wishes for after?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

Shiloh is back home again.

He went up to UCD a few days ago for them to re-evaluate his leg and decide whether to do surgery. The decision was yes, do surgery. He was actually at UCD for several days, arriving home yesterday, with instructions that he is to have strict cage rest for six weeks. Yikes! Puppy in cage constantly for 6 weeks. And he has to wear the collar for 10-14 days to keep him from biting at his stitches, which he is literally itching to do!

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He can go outside on a leash to pee, but that's all. Yesterday didn't seem to go too badly. He slept a lot and whined a little. But this morning he is feeling better, so is less happy at sitting in the cage all day long.

We've come to a compromise that he's willing to live with.

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Polly is happy about the compromise.

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Since Polly is happiest with 23 hours of lap time a day, she thinks this is just about the best thing since doggie beef jerky. As for me, I've watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which came from Netflix this week, and most of the things I've recorded on DVD. If I'm going to sit in a chair for the next six weeks, I may have to take up soap operas.

Actually, Ashley is looking into having one of the vet school students foster Shiloh, which would be nice because they have the expertise (and experience of putting up with crying puppies in cages!) But if a vet student foster home can't be found, I'm fine with keeping him here.

I took him outside this afternoon to pee and instead he flopped down in the grass and went to sleep in the sun. I figured the sun exposure on his stitches, briefly, might be a good thing, so I just got a chair, sat down and watched him sleep.

As for Miss Polly, her weekly ordeal is over again. She trembled all the way to Petco and licked me happily all the way home again. Ashley says she's getting better being at Petco and doesn't hide all the time any more. She also lets other people touch her, which is a very good thing.

Then Ashley sprang a surprise on me. She is thinking of having another SPCA volunteer, who is a behaviorist, take Polly to her house and foster her and work with her on overcoming her shyness. I was surprised at how my stomach did somersaults when she said that. Someone ELSE foster my Polly? It was at that moment that I realized how sad I'm going to be when she leaves here. She's been here nearly 9 months--it will be 9 months in a week, longer than any other foster we've had. In my heart of hearts, I know I don't want to adopt her and that she needs her own home. But it will be sad to turn her over to someone else. I love this little girl.

Ashley says if I want to keep her until they find a home, that's OK too. I told her that what I wanted was whatever was going to be best for Polly, and that I would leave that decision up to her (Ashley). So we'll see what happens.