Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Numbers

I finished three books on our trip to and from Santa Barbara. I read one hardback (Michael Connelly's "The Reversal"), read one on my Kindle app (Jon Katz' "Rose in a Storm") and finished listening to an audio book (Lee Childs' "Running Blind"). I started reading Nora Ephron's "I Remember Nothing" (which I'm loving) but I won't finish it before tomorrow night, so I can now state that I read 36 books this year, not as many as I would like to have read, but five more than I read last year, though I read more pages last year (15,390 vs. 14,131), presumably due to the fact that last year I finished two Diana Gabaldon books, and four other books that were over 500 pages.

I started keeping a database of books I'd read in 2004, because I realized I wasn't reading as much as I used to and this gave me an incentive...nothing like being in competition with yourself. Each year I've read more than the previous year, which is a good thing. There was a huge jump in numbers when I got the Kindle app because it became so much easier to read books because of both the larger typeface and the portability (easy to read in long lines at the post office or supermarket or during intermission of a show, for example).

My friend Char, who is not a television addict, probably reads 36 books a month, but I am doing well for me anyway. I don't think I had a favorite book out of the 36, though murder and crime seemed to dominate on the list.

When we were in Santa Barbara, the whole family went, with Brianna, to see Tangled, which was a fun movie. It got me to wondering how many movies we'd seen this year. We generally average about five or six, but this year we only saw three, one of which the private screening of our friend Matt Callahan's Camp Beaverbrook, about the summer camp that he visited each year as a child. The third movie was Toy Story 3, which I loved.

In contrast, however, we saw about sixty stage shows (>50 of which I reviewed), so we're not exactly stay-at-homes! The best ones were the ones I didn't have to review!

We had 17 foster dogs this year. Three of them were newborns and cold when I picked them up at the shelter, and, sadly, did not live. The others all thrived and moved on to forever homes (except Polly who, on January 1, will have been here one year and, of course, the Andrews puppies who just moved to a new foster home).

We had seven official cousins' days. The aim is to do it once a month, but travel plans and Kathy's health intervened. Peach and I did one "non-Cousins Day Cousins Day" when Kathy got sick at the last minute, and there was one Pinata Group cousins day.

We had the one BIG trip to Russia and two plane trips together, one to So. California to attend tapings of Says You again, and one to Washington, DC for cousin Kayleen's wedding.

There was a time when I wrote lots and lots of letters and was the post office's biggest customer. Now I write lots and lots of e-mails and couldn't even BEGIN to calculate how many I've written, but other than the letters I write to the Compassion kids (121 letters to the six combined), I wrote only FOUR regular letters this year. One was to one of my high school teachers, one was to my mother's doctor, one was to my old boss from years and years ago, and one was a note to the woman who took the Andrews puppies yesterday...that one was hand-delivered.

But I joined Postcrossing on line and have mailed 48 postcards to strangers from 23 different countries around the world.

It's no secret that I'm not a huge sports buff, but we have generally managed to make it to 2-3 Giants games in previous years. This year because of travel we didn't attend a single one, though I watched every single World Series game on TV. Does that count?

I didn't buy a single pair of shoes this year, which is not surprising because I think it's been six years since I bought shoes. I also bought t-shirts on line, but only bought clothes in a store once, a couple of tops for our Russia trip. Obviously buying clothes is not my "thing."

I lost two good friends this year, Merrell Frankel and Diane Clark. Merrell's death may have had a big impact on the world, but we were never really in contact much, but I still miss Diane every day.

This was also the first year since we met in 1999 that I have not seen Steve at all. The last time I saw him was a year ago, at the opening of Jimmy's show in New York. They have since moved to New York and have a better class of friends now.

And, as this year comes to an end, I report that I have written 364 journal entries--I had to skip one day when we were traveling home from Russia. I also posted 91 videos.

We're spending New Year's eve with theatre friends, as we have the last several years. I wish a wonderful 2011 to everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Puppies Gone

Walt got hold of the camera this morning when I was surrounded by puppies. It was our last day with them.

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I loved being mom to these little guys and when they all crowded around me whenever I moved, it was really kind of fun...but I knew that the time had come for them to go.

They were going to a foster family in Woodland, with a house and kids and it sounded like exactly the kind of transitional home they would need until adopted.

It was a sunny (if cold) day and I took them outside to run around. They have been having such fun discovering all sorts of things.

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After they came in for a nap, I went and met my friend Ruth for lunch. My plan had been to go to the store afterwards, but I found as I sat there with her that I was just totally exhausted (as a matter of fact, she asked at one point if I was OK) and once I got into the car, all I wanted to do was to come home and have a nap, which I did--for two hours.

Marta and a friend came over shortly before we had to take the puppies to the SCPA shop. She was needing a puppy fix and the puppies obliged nicely. Then we loaded them into the car, the girls in the carrying crate and Max in my arms.

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We were there to meet the new family and I think it's going to be a good fit. I stuck Max in the crate with the others and Walt said his goodbyes. Notice that I packed their tiny bed to go along with them. I figured it would make them feel better tonight, having a familiar place to sleep, albeit hopelessly small for them!

We stopped at Steve's Pizza on the way home and had a salad for dinner, since I had not gone to the store earlier, and then came home to take down the fencing around the dog crate and clean up a bit before going off to Sacramento to see Cirque Dreams Holidaze, the new show at the Community Center.

The show was enjoyable -- like the Ed Sullivan Show on steroids! My favorite is still the quick change artists. I am completely fascinated by how they DO that, especially changing outfits in a shower of confetti.

However, the show had a bizarre finale that a woman I spoke with afterwards found offensive. Two scantily clad acrobats do this marvelously athletic, beautifully sensuous routine to "Oh Holy Night." I had to admit that rather than "this is the night of our dear Saviour's birth" it looked like the night of our dear Saviour's conception...and it certainly would not have been a virgin birth. The singing was nice and the routine was beautiful, but they definitely did not fit together.

The woman I spoke with said that she was by no stretch of the imagination religious, but she found it offensive. I suppose I will mention that in my review!

It seems lonely around here with "only" 3 dogs. But it's nice to know that I won't have to tiptoe around the house for fear of waking the puppies up if I wake up in the middle of the night.

I sure did like those little guys. I hope they all go to wonderful homes.

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen quotes I like

1. Never go to the foot when the head can be had. - my godfather
2. I always think there’s a band, kid - Harold Hill (The Music Man)
3. After the first four years the dust doesn't get any thicker. The trick is not to lose one's nerve. - Quentin Crisp
4. Theater is our lifeline to humanity. Without it, we’d all be Republicans. - Ken Ludwig
5. To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. - Theodore Roosevelt
6. Love is giving someone the power to break your heart, and trusting they will not use it. -- Joyce Cousins
7. The moment you see something wrong and don't say anything, is the moment you start to die.
- Jocelyn Elders, former Surgeon General
8. How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it. - Marcus Aurelius
9. The light at the end of the tunnel isn't necessarily the Promised Land...sometimes it's New Jersey. --Jon Stewart
10. You can only make a difference if you care. - from The Last Session
11. Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin
12. If God were alive today, He'd be an atheist. - Kurt Vonnegut
13. They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Martin Niemoeller

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Those BIG Puppies

It was nearly 5 p.m. before I realized I was still in my pajamas. I had been working on photos and videos from Christmas as well as videos of the puppies ever since I woke up and hadn't even thought about getting dressed.

I will soon be flooding the internet with mind-numbingly boring Christmas videos, but--hey--I'm a grandmother now, and I gather that's one of the perks! Who's going to deny me the opportunity to bore the world with videos of the back of Bri's head and lengthy discourses which are totally unintelligible because of the combination of baby-speak and bad video microphone? I can feel the anticipation in the reading audience already.

However, I start the flood of videos with what is probably going to be the last video of the puppies (though I may take more tomorrow). They are moving to a new foster home tomorrow afternoon. It was with heavy heart that I made the request to move them, but there was so much potential serious trouble brewing with the big dogs, who barely tolerate the puppies and the puppies, who are now big enough to demand rough play (plus Polly who just stood in my chair, whined pathetically and tried to get me to pick her up!) that I could not see trying to ride herd on this crew for much longer. The puppies need more room to run around in. Luckily today it was not raining and they had some good runs outside, but inside, they need to be locked up and that doesn't seem fair if there is some better solution.

We can separate the big dogs from the little dogs, but that presents a problem if Sheila and Lizzie want to go outside.

The decision of When To Move the Puppies is always a difficult one, but it's even more difficult when you have thoroughly enjoyed a particular litter.

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The girls are such fun to watch, and so inquisitive that they have learned a lot on their own very quickly.

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Patty may have weaned last, but she was the first
to figure out how to get through the dog door!

And everybody is in love with plotzy Max, who just wants to go limp in your lap but isn't terribly bright.

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Laverne lording it over her brother because she and Patty
have come into the house thru the dog door, and he
can't figure out how they did it.

So we will miss them, but it's time to tell them goodbye. My plan is to take a break from fostering for awhile (and there's still Polly in the mix) but I know that all it takes is a good sob story, or a litter of orphans and that resolve will go by the wayside.

(Shhh...don't tell the SPCA that!)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No More Puppies

Ashley did something terrible to our puppies. When we came home, we didn't have 3 dogs and 3 puppies, we had six DOGS! I swear they have gained a ton in the last 5 days. Max was 13 lbs when we left and almost 14-1/2 lbs today. Even their voices are deeper and they walk like dogs, not puppies. The only thing still the same is that they still try to fit into one teeny bed.

I notice that we have another little bed and they seem to prefer this one, though it is smaller than the other one!

It was a long day. We left Alice Nan's by 10:30 and pulled into the driveway around 10:30. That does not mean that we were 12 hours on the road, though. We started at Tom's, where Bri had to show Auntie Nan her new kitchen.

She and I also spent a long time on Daddy's computer looking at the Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar I'd bought her. Apparently she likes it a lot!

Next we went to visit Tutu (Walt's mother. "Tutu" is the Hawaiian word for Grandma.) But first we stopped at Cathedral Oaks Nursery School, so we could see where Bri goes to school.

...and Jeri & Bri could "drive to Boston."

The visit with Walt's mother went well. She had been pretty sleepy the whole time we were in Santa Barbara, but was more awake today. We were able to get a "4 generations" picture...

...and it was very cute that Bri liked touching and kissing her.

I can remember being taken to see my great grandmother when I was about Bri's age and how terrified I was of the hospital and of my great grandmother. It's a great testament to Tom and Laurel and how often they bring Bri to the hospital--and how they are very sensitive to how those visits go--that make Bri feel comfortable around scary looking old people.

It was after 1 before we were finally on the road for good, but it was a lovely drive. The rain had brought green to the hills.

We pretty much drove straight through, stopping only to have lunch in San Luis Obispo at the Fireside Grill, which Tom had recommended. Great burgers and onion rings!

We left Jeri in Berkeley with friends. She will have a day of visiting there tomorrow and then fly off to Boston in the evening. Ned is there now, visiting Phil, and they'll have a day or so to spend together after Jeri gets home.

Our Christmas season has now come to an end and it's on to 2011.

Monday, December 27, 2010

We Forgot to Go Boxing

Today is officially boxing day. I'm sure that has more to do with containers than pugilism, but we didn't do either.

Joe and Norm went off to play golf in the morning. I had slept in the recliner and woke up when I heard them leave, so I was at least able to wave goodbye to Norm.

It was a gorgeous day, which I report only to rub it in to all of my east coast friends. Here's what it looked like here this morning.

(bad Bev!)

Alice Nan was still sleeping when the invitation came to join Tom et al. for pancakes for breakfast. Pancakes and Bri. What a nice way to start the day.

Jeri & Tom helped Bri with her blocks and I'm not sure who had the most time.

Bri showed Jeri the book about her trip to Maine and Boston.

Tom and Walt also watched the 49er-Rams game and perhaps the less said about that the better. Let's just say that we recommend only soft things be left in the family room on game day. (At one point after a particularly anguished cry from Tom, Bri ran in and asked "What happened, Daddy? Did the niners do something bad?")

While the game was going on, I read several books to Bri. I believe the occasion was well documented on film, but since I was a participant, it wasn't documented on my camera, but this trip has been wonderful in that Bri now knows who I am and includes me in her activities.

Walt and I had a lunch date with our friends Dick and Gerry (who live close to Tom) so we left around 2 p.m. and went to their house for their traditional Boxing Day tamales.

I should explain that we know Gerry and Dick from the old Newman Hall days at UC Berkeley. They were around during the national Newman Hall Convention, which Berkeley hosted. The theme of the event was "Follow the Sun in '61." I arrived on campus when the convention was in full swing, so I was slow to get to know all the participants, though they have all remained some of my best friends.

So imagine my surprise when Gerry pulled out an old piece of cardboard she had re-discovered recently and which was the backside of a prop for a play we apparently did at Newman that year. Dick and Gerry's kids did the play from the old script that Gerry also found.

And I thought I had old stuff!

We had to leave quickly to meet the family at the theatre because we were all going to see Tangled, which Bri had seen before but was thrilled to be seeing again. She brought the gang of stuffies with her:

Piggy, Bri's constant companion is in her left arm, but the black and brown "Tangle" is a dog that we gave her and he seems to have quickly assumed major importance in Bri's stuffy family.

Tangled is a great movie. I just marvel at how animation has progressed since I first started watching cartoons with Gilbert back in the 1980s. How he would be blown away by what is being done with animation these days.

After the movie, Bri got everyone (not only our family, but everyone in the plaza) chasing each other around the big Christmas tree. Lord does that kid have energy!

Then back to Alice & Joe's to pick at Christmas leftovers for dinner, and listen to "Malt Shop Favorites" on Direct TV music stations. Back to our 1950s again!

We are going to visit Grandma Sykes tomorrow before we head out for home.

I'm missing puppies!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

And to All a Good Night

The festivities have ended and all have gone to bed, Jeri at Tom & Laurel's house. I very much want to be sleeping, so I offer no promise that this is going to be particularly interesting.

This morning Joe and Alice brought out the bottle of cinnamon which had been hiding in the bathroom, to prove that they really had cinnamon.

While breakfast was cooking, Jeri had us all make a video on her cell phone to send to Phil, in Boston.

After breakfast, everybody went off to Mass, leaving me alone in the house to shower, do some laundry, have a nice Christmas chat with my mother, and read my book (which I just finished before starting this journal entry). Very nice.

After they returned, Joe started to get dinner ready.

Jeri helped decorate "the shell tree," which was given to the Sykes family when they lived in Hawaii in the 1950s and which has been decorated every year since. They were going to take it to show to Grandma Sykes (didn't want to leave it at the hospital, fearing the ornaments would mysteriously disappear).

And then we all (except Joe, today's chef) went downtown to see Grandma, who seemed pretty tired, but we did manage to get a nice family picture for her soon-to-be-printed Christmas letter.

Tom, Laurel and Bri arrived around 6 or 7 and Joe served a delicious dinner.

Then there were gifts and music and lots of laughter. And, oh yes, there might have been a couple of pictures of Brianna taken during the course of the evening as well.

Aunt Jeri got to teach her how to play the saxophone...

...and how to put blocks in a shape box.

Later, they played a duet together...

while Norm and Walt argued about their memories of how to play the ukelele.

Eventually, Tom et al (including Jeri) left and the rest of us sat around watching the DVD that Ned had made of his videos, which he gave to me at my mother's.

Then Walt, wearing new pj bottoms (which Jeri had called Tom and asked him to buy for her when she realized Walt had been wearing his current pjs for about 15 years!) came to tell me good night.

Now that I've finished this totally uncreative entry, I'm going to drag myself to sleep too.

It really was a lovely Christmas.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I Watch Survivor, I Can DO this!

As I write this, it is about 11 p.m. on Christmas eve. Walt is in the kitchen trying to open a can of pumpkin, because the stand can opener doesn't seem to like us. I just heard Joe's bottle opener playing the USC fight song...I guess Walt thought he'd try that as an alternative.

It's kind of been like that all day. We had a lovely breakfast and then, with an 8 hour drive ahead of us, packed up early and headed off to Santa Barbara. My mother, as usual, stood on her porch and waved us off.

We decided to drive as far as Gonzales, where our favorite burger joint, The Burger Queen (an independent fast food place) was located. While we were driving, we listened to an excellent podcast Jeri had on her iPod of a "Fresh Air" (NPR) interview with Jon Stewart. Is it any wonder that so many of us (male and female) are in love with Jon Stewart!

We finally saw the Gonzales water tower off in the distance, and, already salivating over the Burger Queen mushroom burger and onion rings, we pulled into the parking lot, only to see this:

Undaunted, we headed for the BurgerKing across the street in the small strip mall, only to find it closed too. I pointed out a Subway nearby, which was open, but had no bathroom, which we all needed. The clerk told us we could find a bathroom at McDonald's. So there we sat, at McDonald's, looking longingly at the Burger Queen.

Back in the car for the last leg, listening to fascinating interviews, first with Stephen Sondheim and then with the guys who made Toy Story 3, while Jeri worked on finishing grading her papers so she could enjoy Christmas with the family.

We arrived to an empty house. The others are at Christmas parties, so we came in and made ourselves at home. Jeri and I both fired up our computers (her to do her class grading, me to post yesterday's entry). Only Joe's wifi does not show up in my list of available networks. Sh*t.

OK...I can work around it. I would just take the flash drive on which it was stored and put it on Joe's computer. It wouldn't recognize or install the flash drive. Sh*t again.

Finally I got the idea of putting everything on my Secure Digital disk and THAT finally worked and the entry was posted.

Next we had some dinner and then I started to make the pumpkin pies. I didn't want to make them before I left home. Making pies on December 22 to be eaten on December 25 just didn't sound like a good idea to me. So I made the pie crust and kept that in my mother's refrigerator. I also, fortunately remembered that last year I had to send Walt out for a rolling pin since there wasn't one here.

I figured they had spices and sugar, so I didn't need to buy that, but I did bring eggs, pumpkin and evaporated milk.

So I go to get ingredients together, hoping against hope they had the spices. Yes, they had two bottles of ginger and 1 of cloves (which maybe I bought last year), but NO CINNAMON. I needed 2 tsp of cinnamon. We did find stick cinnamon and Jeri convinced me we could grate 2 tsp of cinnamon. She grated and grated and grated and we go 2 tsp of cinnamon, but much of it is bark-like. I thought the blender (no mixer) would grind it, but it didn't.

I went to add the rest of the ingredients, and needed 1-1/2 cups of sugar...they only had 3/4 cup. I managed to dig up a box of brown sugar, so I added that. The final straw was when I couldn't find salt and had to use the table salt shaker, which ended up spilling salt all over the place.

Then I couldn't get the pumpkin can to open...nor could Walt, but he had more patience than I did.

I had remembered to bring my handy dandy new pie crust rolling bag and it worked sorta ok on the first crust and worked better on the second, until I discovered I had turned it inside out and couldn't unzip it.

As I write this, the pies are cooking. I'll know tomorrow if it all worked and if it was all edible.

I think my part is all finished. All I have to do now is sit back and wait for the festivities to start. that the pies are cooked, the gang has come home. "You're out of cinnamon," I said. "We just bought lots of cinnamon," they said. "It's in the bathroom." (they use it to keep ants out)

Gee. I never thought to look there. we're watching It's a Wonderful Life.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The First Celebration

As I write this, it is about 11 p.m. on December 23. My mother, who refuses adamantly all help in the kitchen, is finishing her cleaning. Walt and Jeri have gone to bed. I have determined that there is no internet connection to be had tonight, but I am writing this entry and will post at the first opportunity.

It's been a fun "first Christmas." We got kind of a late start, so didn't get here until 4:30. Ned had been here since 2, and Jeri had arrived some time after that. They had already started on the munchies by the time we arrived.

Ned was happy to show off his new teeth, giving him, I thought, a very Anthony DiNozzo look.

Marta, who had been to a meeting in Santa Rosa, wasn't too far behind us and in short order, Ned was running a bunch of videos he had brought, videos that he's made this past year. I am in constant awe at his composing and editing skills. But it was a little sad, too. The final video is one of one of Paul's monologue shows...a funny bit that had us all laughing heartily. But it was sad for two reasons--first, of course, because it's Paul and he's not here any more, but my mother asked me three times who it was. At first I thought she was joking but then realized that she really had no idea who that person was. Stuff like that scares me.

The dinner also made me realize that we can't do another dinner like this. She loves to entertain, and she insists on doing all the set-up and clean-up by herself and it's just getting to be too much for her.

Next time we do this, we'll have to make other arrangements so she doesn't have to go through the confusion of making a dinner any more, no matter how much she thinks she wants to do it. I hate to see her so exhausted, and in such physical pain at the end of the evening.

After dinner we opened a few gifts and I was able to give Ned the gift I'd been waiting for weeks to give him.

People who have been following Ned on Facebook for months will understand why this is hilarious.

He loved it and my main frustration with having no internet connection tonight is that I can't post this photo to Facebook yet!

Just before we left home, UPS showed up with a package from Bri for my mother and she and Jeri enjoyed looking at the beautiful calendar that was also a scrapbook of Bri's last year.

But now it's late and since I can't be tempted by an internet connection and can't post this, I think I'll get my book, curl up and read for awhile and then get ready to start our next Christmas, the drive down to Santa Barbara. Maybe we can stop at an internet cafe for lunch....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Season of Miracles

My entry a year ago is called "The Christmas Miracle," referring to the fact that I seemed to have gotten over a cold overnight, and would not be spoiling Christmas.

There was another miracle on this date this year, only a very different one. Mid-morning, two trucks pulled up across the street...

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It was the AT&T guys showing up, after nearly a week, to finally bury the electric wires in our neighbor's driveway. They were here a couple of hours and when they finished, they asked me to check to see if everything worked. It did.

Several hours later, it still works. Be still my heart.

The other miracle of the day was watching President Obama sign the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't tell. As emotional a ceremony as that was, it didn't affect me as much as this video shows.

I was wiping away tears as Harry Reid returned Choi's West Point ring to him. God, let's hope this whole thing is behind us now!

The only problem with today was that Walt and I had forgotten to coordinate. When he went off to work I thought he would be on his bike like every other day, but he was going to the post office and it was a grey day, threatening rain (which hasn't arrived yet) and so he took the car.

My plan for the day had been to do some baking. I'm bringing dessert to my mother's tomorrow's early Christmas dinner, and pumpkin pies to Walt's sister's house in Santa Barbara for Christmas. I also wanted to do some baking to leave goodies for Ashley, who will be staying here while we are gone.

But with no car, there was no way to get to the store to buy all the stuff I needed to do.

I did get something baked for Ashley, and wrapped all of the Christmas presents. I finally got to the store at 7 p.m., after watching Jeopardy. So as I write this, there is a pumpkin cheesecake baking and when it is finished, I can get some sleep so we can start our multi-day Christmas festivities.

I will have the laptop with me, but wifi is iffy at my mother's, so I don't know if I will post an entry tomorrow night or not. I will WRITE one and then see if it can be posted.

Puppy Update: I swear I weighed these puppies 3 days ago and Max was about 10-1/2 lbs. Today he is THIRTEEN pounds! He's getting too heavy to lift over the fence in the doggie yard!

Thursday Thirteen

Visions of Sugarplums, or Desserts I like
1. Creme Brulée
2. Ice cream (any kind)
3. Pumpkin pie
4. Cheesecake
5. Chocolate mousse
6. Berry pie
7. Chocolate chip cookies
8. Shortbread
9. Banana Whip
10. Cream filled eclairs
11. Coconut cream pie
12. Strawberry shortcake
13. Hot Fudge Sundae

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Day (More or Less) with Jeri

It was nice having Jeri in town all day, and she was able to get some errands run while here.

We all kind of slept late (7 is late for me!) and eventually, sometime before noon, I started making pecan waffles.

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No, it wasn't "Waffle Wednesday," but Tuesday was close enough, when Jeri was in town. The waffles were delicious.

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Jeri eventually went off on Walt's bike to get some errands run and we made plans to meet for lunch "or something" around 3 p.m. (since we were all full from breakfast at noon).

At 3 we went to Ciocolat, a lovely little bistro type restaurant in downtown Davis. As we were mulling over menu options, Kate, who is a friend of ours and who owns the restaurant, recommended the chicken noodle soup, with noodles made on the premises. It was a good recommendation, with a rich flavorful broth, delicious noodles and a side caesar salad with slivers of parmesan and foccacia bread....and lots of croutons, my favorite.

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After our mid-afternoon snack, we walked over to the downtown post office so Jeri could get a box to mail some stuff home to herself. On the way we passed the "Compassion David."

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I had read about him in Davis Life Magazine (from where I stole the photo--it's actually grey and cold today and he was bundled up in a heavy coat). He began a quest earlier this year to define the word "compassion." He started this quest when he lived in Oakland after seeing a speech on compassion by Karen Armstrong, a former nun, who created a “Charter for Compassion” based on the idea that “compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethnical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be trusted.”

He stands on the corner with a notebook in hand and he stops people to ask if they would mind writing down their definition of "compassion." He has over 3,300 signatures in his books. I added mine, because I wanted to talk to him. I defined "compassion" as "caring about others more than yourself, and being kind to animals." I asked David what his definition of compassion is and I'm afraid it was too lofty for me to understand!

A few steps farther down the street (Jeri and Walt had gone on ahead to the post office while I spoke with David), I ran into a woman I used to work with and haven't seen in many years. She retired 2 years ago and was telling me about her difficulties adjusting to retirement and her realization that she needs to get a volunteer job, possibly at the hospital. It was nice to see her again.

We returned to the house and Jeri packed up her stuff while waiting for a friend who was going with her to a concert (and then driving her to Grandma's house to spend the night).

I was full from lunch, so Walt finished my leftover half turkey stuffing sandwich from Trader Joe's, supplemented with some yogurt and some party mix our next door neighbor had given us, for dinner.

We are child-less again (if you don't count the 4-footed ones), but it's always nice to spend a day with one of our kids. And the evening ended with this fabulous music video that Ned posted on YouTube. I hope you watch it.