Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Champs and Other Sports Stuff

30 October 2012
watchFBsm.jpg (74698 bytes)I loved this picture that Laurel posted on Facebook today.  Her caption read, "I already knew I was a football widow, but now I've lost my kid too!!"  Someone pointed out that at least Brianna doesn't have a beer in her hand...yet...

Tom and David were our big sports nuts, which is so strange since Walt and I aren't.  We watch sports sometimes, but never with the passion that Tom does.   The other kids appreciate sports, but again, not with the passion that Tom does.   Ned would pay big bucks to go to a Phish concert or two, but I can't see him spending that much to go to a 49er or Giants game.

I have a great picture...somewhere...of Tom and David watching a Superbowl, dressed in their 49er paraphernalia -- tshirts, hats, and waving banners, cheering madly.   Their love of football may not have started as early as Brianna's has, but it was there from very early on.

The 49ers won the Superbowl that year and the day they did, I happened to be at the local nursery and found "49er roses," yellow roses trimmed with red.  I bought two bushes and planted them in front of the house, one for Tom and one for David (I don't know if Tom even remembers that).  I think of both kids each year when the roses bloom.

I did not grow up with a sports tradition.  My father's sport was boxing, the more violent the better.  He preferred the heavyweights to the lightweights, but he would watch any boxing event that came on TV.  I don't remember, however, his watching football or baseball games, at least not on a regular basis.  Certainly not with the regularity that would have me in as rapt attention as Brianna is.  I remember that he took me to a football game once.  It was the very early days of the 49ers in San Francisco and the only thing I remember about the game (which was played in old Kezar Stadium) was that Leo Nomellini was on the team.  I probably remember because the name was so odd.

I think he may have also taken me to an old Seals baseball game, but that is just a guess.  Long before the Giants arrived in town.

I enjoyed going to Cal football games when I was in Berkeley and all of my friends were avid fans.  I enjoyed the games, but really I was there for the half time shows.   I always liked the bands better than the game itself, and Cal lost enough "big games" to Stanford to make me very depressed.  More than once, we cried "Oh, Cal...you're so....bad!"  (Ironically, check my entry, "Go Bears," for this date, 2011.  I rest my case!)

For me, sport watching is a team event.  I enjoy a game if I'm watching it with someone else.  And actually, unless it's a San Francisco team playing (or a Boston team or a D.C. team), I'll root for anybody who makes a good play.  But the fun is in sharing it with someone else, and we don't do that much around here.  I don't know how much Walt watches upstairs, but he rarely turns on a game on the TV where I am more likely to be watching.  He knows it's not a big deal for me, as a general rule.

Peggy is a HUGE sports fan.  The loves of her life, when I knew her, were her family, her dogs, and sports.  It was hard to rank them in order of preference!   So when I was with her, sports became a part of my life too, and it was fun, those times we got together with some of her friends to watch a "footy" or a soccer game.  I actually started to learn the rules of footy and got quite excited cheering for Peggy's team in the footy championship (especially since they ultimately won).   She tried to teach me the rules of cricket, but I fear that's a game you have to be born with.  But there is something quaintly appealing about a game where they take "tea breaks" !!

All that said, however, I was glued to both the playoffs and then the World Series.  I'm a fair weather fan.  I wait until there is a chance of taking it all before my interest is piqued.  I remember 1962, when the Giants played their first World Series (the wail from that game being "If only McCovy had hit it 2 feet higher!).  I was working for the Physics Department at Berkeley at that time and the office manager had brought a tiny black and white TV set into the office so we could watch the final game of the series.  I worked in a different building but I, and many others from other places in the building, all forgot work entirely and crammed into the tiny office to watch the game.  And then McCovy didn't hit it 2 feet higher and we all trudged back to our offices.

We didn't get a chance to celebrate until two years ago, so it was a very long wait.  And here the miracle looked like it might happen again!  Whoda thunk the Giants could come from behind to win the playoffs, and then who could believe they could sweep the series.  That was not the Giants team I have followed, if passively, lo these many years.  I was fully prepared for disappointment.  Being up 3 games, I had high hopes that they would actually win the series, but was certain yesterday would be the day the Tigers would finally win one.

GiantsSF.jpg (50105 bytes)Walt was at the opera in San Francisco for the day, so when the game started it was just me and the dogs here.   The dogs did not give the game the attention that Brianna gives to 49er games.   Polly was just glad that she could sit in my lap for such a long time while I was glued to the action on the TV screen.

Walt reported that they had set up a big screen in front of City Hall so people could gather to watch the game, and when the opera was over (and the game started), he sent a picture.  The crowd was later estimated to be 10,000 people.

He did not stay to watch the game there, though, but headed home.  I made it through 8 nail-biting innings alternately cheering or moaning to Polly, who thought I was pretty silly.  I don't know what I ate, but when the game was tied at the bottom of the 8th inning, I had to eat SOMETHING.  I simply must take up drinking....

Walt was home in time to see the 10th inning Giants win so we could cheer together.  Wow.  A sweep.  They actually DID it.  Go, Giants!

The big parade to celebrate the win will take place on Halloween (which is Walt's symphony day, so he will be in the city again).  It seems somehow appropriate that on Halloween, the whole city will be decked out in orange and black!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday Stealing

1) What do you think is the best costume for Halloween?
I don't do costumes so I don't know what is out there, but I like costumes that are offbeat and original.  Walt told me once that his brother wore a white suit and a red cap and said he was a pimple.  

2) What would an alien think of humans if it came to Earth on Halloween?
Probably that they'd found the home planet.

3) Who Would you haunt?
Oh there are probably lots of Republicans that could do with a good haunting.

4) Are you afraid of the dark?
Only of tripping over things, but afraid of "things that go bump in the night," no.  I used to be afraid of stepping on hot wheels or jacks or other small, sharp toys.  Now I'm afraid of stepping in dog puddles (fortunately that hasn't happened in a long time)

5) Do you pass out candy, or hide with the lights off?
Because of the dogs, who make such a ruckus at the front door, it's easier to hide with the lights off and pretend we aren't home.  The neighborhood doesn't get many trick or treaters anyway.  Most of the kids go downtown and hit businesses during the day.

6) What Scary movie do you like best?
I don't remember seeing a lot of scary movies.  The only movie which actually made me gasp wasn't necessarily a scary movie; it was Topkapi.  I do remember Invasion of the Body Snatchers, though (the original black and white, with Kevin McCarthy)

7) If you had to wear a costume for a week, what would you be?
Something soft and comfy.

8) What do you think about Ouija boards?
I've never tried one.  I'm sure it's a fun game.  I don't believe anybody from "beyond" would send me a message, though.

9) Have you ever told ghost stories around a fire?
We may have when I went to Girl Scout camp.

10) Trick? or Treat?
Definitely treat.  (Snickers, please)

11) Have you ever been in a haunted house?
Not a real one, though Ned and his friend Greg make a great haunted house that we went to see last year.  Fabulous!

12) What would you do if you saw a ghost?
Be very curious.  I once interviewed people who live in a house with family ghosts.  By the time I finished my interview I truly believed in these ghosts!

13) Question 13, should we have skipped this and jumped to 14?
That's so silly.  Just skipping the number would just have made #14 really #13.
14) Are you brave enough to walk into a grave yard after dark on Halloween?
Oh sure.  We've spent lots of time in the local cemetery after dark.  I don't see why Halloween should be any different.

15) Do you like chocolate?
Is the pope homophobic?  Yes, I like chocolate.  Preferably milk chocolate

16) Who would look better in a clown costume? Obama or Romney?
Oh, I'd dearly love to see Romney in a Pinocchio costume!  Preferably with a nose that really grew whenever he told a lie.

17) Are you in the path of Frankenstorm?
Nope, but Jeri may be.

18) Post a link to any other blog:
Check Can I Drink the Water by my friend Judith Epstein.  It's a fairly new blog.  She writes about her many trips and offers suggestions for travelers.  Right now she and her husband just left Hong Kong after 3 days and have arrived in Nepal.  They will be visiting Nepal and India.  I am looking forward to following her adventures.  She takes wonderful photos.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Vote for My Guy

I know that this election is super-important and no matter which candidate you are supporting, I can only assume that with the way passions are running, you are desperate to make certain that your candidate or your ballot issue wins.  You are fervent in your beliefs and you are cringing in fear that the other guy will win or that your ballot proposition will lose.

In the heat of all of this, I have often felt guilty for not volunteering to get on the phones and make calls, hoping to sway voters, speaking out for my guy or the propositions I feel strongly about.  I know how vital to the future of this country getting the right people into office is and if I really feel that strongly, I should be willing to spend a few hours calling other voters.

Today I found out why that would have been a very, very bad idea.   I'm not surprised.  I think I knew it all along and for once a clearer head ruled my emotional heart.
I had a call from someone trying to convince me to vote for a controversial ballot proposition.  It is one that I have not made up my mind about yet because I just haven't read up on it yet.  I think I'm voting no, but I was willing to listen to the other side (and no, I won't say which of our many controversial ballot propositions this is!)

Normally I would just hang up the phone because I just don't want to think about the election right now, but she seemed to be a nice, polite lady and I decided to hear what she had to say.

I told her I had not made up my mind but was leaning toward a no vote.  She gave me her spiel about why I should vote yes.  I asked questions she couldn't answer and she went to check her cheat sheet.

She admitted she did not live in California, but was calling from outside the state.  When I brought up the misgivings I had about the proposition she told me that I should look at the people who were paying for it and realize that she isn't getting any money for doing calls, and the company she is working for isn't making any money by working to get it passed.

I could tell she was getting emotional, and I was getting emotional.   The discussion heated up and I told her how tired I was of all the ads and the calls and the conflicting information.  I told her she sounded like a nice lady and I would be willling to go to the web site to check out her information, but that I knew people who were also nice people who were voting no on it and I just needed to decide for myself.

That's when she told me that the people I knew were working for big corporations and she was not. That was the straw that broke the camel's back.   I lost my temper, yelled that she was making unwarranted assumptions and slammed the phone back in its cradle.

The way my heart was pounding and I was so angry when I ended the conversation made me realize that given how tempers are at the moment, I would do NOBODY any good by trying to convince someone they should vote for a candidate or a proposition that I feel strongly about.  Though I am mostly a quiet, taciturn sort of person most of the time, when you get my emotions involved, I can get very angry very quickly.   This is NOT the sort of person you want manning a phone bank!

After I hung up on her, I went to the League of Women Voters web site and had my feelings confirmed by reading their arguments pro and con and remembering why it was that I was learning toward "no" already.  The League recommends a "no" vote.
I'm voting no.

No matter who gets your vote, or what you are voting on the ballot propositions this year, please VOTE.  It's so important.  This country should do what they do in Australia and Luxemborg (and perhaps other countries) and make it mandatory to vote.  In Australia, you get fined if you don't vote.   That should do away with the threat of voter suppression!

A few weeks back, my friend Ruth brought me a pair of sox she had seen that she thought I would like.

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I seem to wear (and buy) a lot of patterned sox and I thought these would be perfect for the next time I was reviewing a Shakespeare play.  We are off to see MacBeth: the Radio Play by the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble tonight and this seems to be the perfect occasion for my Shakespeare sox to make their debut, even though nobody will even see them.  But I will and it will help get me in the mood.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The New Normal

I talked with my mother yesterday and asked about the shoulder pain she's been having.  It was bothering her a lot when we were there for Cousins Day, but we couldn't get her to agree to talk with an advice nurse.  But the pain is worse now and she finally said that "when I had time to come down" she would go to the doctor.

Naturally, I was on the phone to the advice nurse immediately.   She would not go on my report about my mother and so put in a conference call so she could talk with both of us at the same time.  Because this is her left arm, the nurse and the on-call doctor wanted my mother to go to the ER immediately, but I kept saying that this was something she was seen for 6 months ago that had only gotten worse...it was not a cardiac problem.  But the doctor was adamant that she needed at least to see her doctor RIGHT AWAY.  I pointed out that my husband had our car and I had no way to get there, but she was so insistent I decided I could rent a car from Enterprise (which will come and pick you up) and get her to the doctor.

(She also told the advice nurse that on a scale of 1-10 her pain level was a 1 and that she had it just once a day for a few seconds, though the pain is constant, she can't raise her arm over her head without wincing, the shooting pains into her chest are frequent and they wake her up at night!)

Then it turned out there were no appointment slots for yesterday anyway and the soonest they could fit her in was today at 4 p.m.

Slight problem was that I was supposed to review a show at the university at 8 p.m., but I was able to reschedule to it tomorrow night instead.  It was conceivable that I could get home barely in time, but if something unexpected came up at the doctor's office or if there was traffic, I would be late.

With a clear conscience, then, I set off for my mother's.  I had told her I would join her for lunch, and I arrived at noon.  She had forgotten I was coming for lunch and had already eaten her lunch, so I had a carton of yogurt, which filled me all right.  But I was exhausted.  All I wanted to do was take a nap.  She pulled pillows off of one of her couches and let out a scream.   There are two pillows, one at either end of the couch and under BOTH of them there was what ended up beling what must have been half a cup or more of mouse turds.   Black piles of poop hiding under the cushions.

That's when she told me that two days ago she found a dead rat in her bathtub.  

I checked the rest of the house and found more mouse (or rat?) poop in the guest bathroom, on the rug, and going into her hall closet, where she keeps a lot of food.  This is from a woman who is a meticulous housekeeper, even if she can't do the level that she used to do.

I'm making arrangements to have her house cleaned professionally again and we bought mouse poison today and hopefully that will stop it. But she said that she was going to vacuum the other day and couldn't remember how to put her vacuum cleaner together, so she had to put it away again.  She got out her broom to sweep, but as soon as she began doing it, her back hurt too much and she had to put it back.  We got as much of the poop cleaned up as we could and we'll see what happens.

I took a nap for about an hour, and awoke feeling refreshed.  We sat and talked until time to go to the doctor, but this was a very bad memory day.  I swear she almost forgot her own name.  She forgot we were going to actually see the doctor, she says she doesn't remember ever being at her office before and wouldn't have a clue how to find it (though we have been there regularly over the past several years), she couldn't remember why she was being seen.  It went on and on like that.

I was pleased that there was a parking place in the garage because I truly did not think that I could let her off and meet her in the doctor's office after I found on-street parking, as I have done in the past, because I didn't think she could find the office on her own.

But we finally saw the doctor, of whom I have become quite fond.   I think she also trusts me more now to be a spokesperson for my mother, who just said she was "fine" when asked how she was and thought she was there for her cough, forgetting the pain that brought her there.

Sadly, the pain is just age related (impingement syndrome) and other than suggesting she use Motrin or Advil, there is little that can be done.  The doctor is reluctant to give her a cortisone shot because it would make her feel somewhat "unsettled" and we agreed that what she didn't need is something to make her unsettled.

She sent her off to the lab for blood work and x-rays and my mother couldn't remember why she was there and was ready to go home after the x-rays and had to be reminded to stick around for the blood work.

When we were finished at Kaiser, she took me to dinner at Applebees, which she said she hasn't been to in years (though I know she eats there regularly with a friend).  

 Sitting in the restaurant she told me she hadn't been to "this store" in years because she just doesn't ever buy clothes for herself any more.

It was a long day, but just as my mother is becoming accustomed to having to sit and rest her back whenever it bothers her, which is most of the time, I am becoming accustomed to the new way that we visit and am learning to enjoy her for however she is on any given day.  Right now she does have a bad cough (nothing serious, the doctor says), and I've noticed over the past few years that when she she has something physical going on with her, her memory is much worse.  I am assuming that as soon as the cough finally subsides, her memory will improve -- a little tip that I picked up at a dementia lecture we attended a year or so ago, which has proven to be true every time I notice a really bad memory day and start looking at what else is going on in her body at the time.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Know When to Fold 'Em

This is the second time in as many days where I've used that reference, knowing when to hold 'em and knowing when to fold 'em.  The only reason I didn't throw in the towel and quit reading the horrible piece of crap that is James Patterson's latest novel, "Zoo," is that I felt if I continued on, it would make good fodder for a journal entry.

I read most books on my Kindle, which tells me how much of the book I have read.  I watched the numbers creep from 25% to 50% but by the time I reached 75% my tolerance level had reached its peak and I decided to give it up.

James Patterson used to be good.  He used to be quite good, but then he got too big for his britches and he started churning out two or three novels a year, each with a co-author.  I can only hope that Patterson's contribution to many of these books is to put his name on as co-author, because I hate to think that this is really the depths to which his previous talent has sunk.

I don't know what they are smoking over at Time magazine, but its review for this book (co-authored by Michael Ledwidge) is glowing
Once in a lifetime, a writer puts it all together. This is James Patterson's best book ever.

For 36 years, James Patterson has written unputdownable, pulse-racing novels. Now, he has written a book that surpasses all of them. ZOO is the thriller he was born to write.

All over the world, brutal attacks are crippling entire cities. Jackson Oz, a young biologist, watches the escalating events with an increasing sense of dread. When he witnesses a coordinated lion ambush in Africa, the enormity of the violence to come becomes terrifyingly clear.

With the help of ecologist Chloe Tousignant, Oz races to warn world leaders before it's too late. The attacks are growing in ferocity, cunning, and planning, and soon there will be no place left for humans to hide. With wildly inventive imagination and white-knuckle suspense that rivals Stephen King at his very best, James Patterson's ZOO is an epic, non-stop thrill-ride from "One of the best of the best." (TIME)
To save you from having to read this pile of excrement, let me give you an overview. It's a spoiler alert, but I prefer to think I'm doing you a HUGE favor by writing it. Read at your discretion.

Scientist Jackson Oz suspects that something is going wrong with the world's animals.  Nobody believes him because he doesn't have a degree.  Oz hears from a friend in Botswana who has also noted some stronge things and rushes off to get proof to support his theory.  Within hours they are attacked by lions.   Friend in Botswana is killed, Oz escapes, but finds a girl hanging in a tree inches from being eaten by crocodiles.  He rescues her and by the time they get back to civilization (we never find out how--this book is rife with life-threatening situations that are avoided but it is never explained how) they are in love.

Oh.  While he's gone to Botswana, he asks his New York girlfriend to come in once a day and feed his pet chimpanzee, Atilla.  Well, that's kind of like saying "don't go into the basement, Martha!" while the spooky music plays.  Naturally by the time he and the new girlfriend return, he finds the body of the old girlfriend (well that was convenient) in the apartment that has been totally trashed, and the chimp gone.  Curtain.

Next page it is 4 years later and new gf and Oz are married and have a kid.  The animal situation is even worse and now comes a series of chapters, one chapter is Oz trying to meet with leading scientists around the world, the next chapter is a picture of some folks somewhere in the world where they are being eaten by ravaging animals, from rats to bears to giggling dolphins to dogs.  After we get the gory details of the current attack by the current flock of animals, we go back to Oz who is again being summoned to Washington to meet with The President (who is a woman,of course), only every time he gets to D.C. something happens that prevents the meeting and he gets sent back to New York fleeing for his life.

The last scheduled meeting was canceled because president is emotional because it seems that her daughter was eaten by the family dog and the pres had to kill it. Of course.
When I finally decided I simply could not read another page, Atilla the chimp had turned up again, still wearing the red hat he was wearing when he escaped 4 years ago, now a bit faded, of course, and he bites off a guy's nose, leaving him to be eaten by....I think it's rats.  I'd lost track by then.

The problem with this book (or one of a zillion problems) is that there is ZERO credibility even for a cheesy sci fi movie.  You don't know enough about any of the characters to care about them, the "non-stop thrill ride" is about as scary as the children's merry-go-round at your local park.  The animal attacks are so predictable, all you want to know is which breed is going to kill now?

In the meantime, foolhardy people are ignoring the danger and still going out into the woods to go on fishing trips while the military has decided that the only solution to the problem is to bomb all the animals.  Kill 'em all.  

My God was this an awful book.  If I had any respect whatsoever for Patterson after his awful "Cross Country," it has totally disappeared. 

Jim of Jim's Journal left a note on my guest book yesterday which said, "Which Patterson book actually improved? I've only read two complete Patterson books and they both became increasingly terrible as they went."  That is true in spades for "Zoo" and I should have quit while I was ahead.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sometimes I'm a Quitter

Before starting this entry, a couple of "housekeeping" comments.  First, and most important of all...

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Second, I encourage everyone to read this entry by Rob Rummel-Hudson about an important subject that most of us probably don't think about at all 99% of the time.  

I sort of gave up on a book this week.  It was Nicolai Gogol's classic Russian novel, "Dead Souls."  Gogol, who lived 1819-1898, was considered one of Russia's top "realistic" writers.  "Dead Souls" is that rare Russian novel--a comedy, meant to expose corruption in the Russian government.

I did kind of get into the story of Chichikov who travels to a town where he is not known and puts on the airs of a rich landowner.  In truth he's there to buy "dead souls," the servants of the noble people who still remain on the books and on whom a tax must be paid until the next census (which may not occur for 10 years).   The plan is to register these "dead souls" under his own name and use them to prove his worth to his local government so that they can be used as collateral on a big bank loan that he will use to actually build the estate he claims to own.

We meet a number of interesting and definitely eccentric rich people who eventually sell their dead souls to Chichikov and he becomes such a favorite of the town that when he has purchased all he wants, they encourage him to stay and promise that they will find a good wife for him.  This is a guy who knows when to hold 'em, but does not know when to fold 'em.  The truth about himself and his plans is uncovered and he is forced to leave the town without souls, without money, without honor.

That's Part 1.  That's when I quit.  I had a month to work on this book, and I usually read a book a week, but I am still only half finished with it...and the book club meeting to discuss it was tonight.  While I have enjoyed it in bits and pieces, it does seem to go on...and on...and on...and on repetitiously until you just want to say "Get on with it already!"  A James Patterson thriller it ain't.

I considered not going to the book club, but I was interested to see what others thought of the book, so I did go.  It was a small turnout, so I suspect others were in the same boat I was.  But of the 7 of us who were there, one had not read the book, one had read it in college but hadn't finished it this time, one had finished it, and the others were still working on it.  So I was able to be part of the discussion after all, and was glad to see that my feelings about it, and my thoughts about the character and the plot development were pretty much in agreement with what others thought.

I'm actually not completely finished with this book.  I think I'd like to continue reading it to its completion, but know that I have frustration ahead of me because Gogol never actually finished it, and, in fact, the book ends mid-sentence.   From what I read in notes about the book, the section that I read (Book 1) is the part that everyone tends to remember (maybe because nobody actually gets to Book 2?) 

Next month's book, "The Stupidest Angel" (a heartwarming tale of Christmas terror) by Christopher Moore (who also wrote "Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's  Childhood Pal") should be a bit easier going, and more fun!

In the meantime there is James Patterson's "Zoo," which has been touted as the definitive Patterson, the book "Patterson was meant to write," and "the best Patterson ever," which I am, so far, finding as pretty stupid.   But it may pick up. His books often do.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I'll Pass on the Jellyfish

We went to a big birthday party this week.  It was one of those big "ZERO years" for someone we had known for more than thirty years.  The party was held at a huge Chinese restaurant in Sacramento.  There were about forty of us, ten to a table, and it was an eleven course Chinese meal.

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The soup was good, until I checked on what "fish maw" was just now and discovered it's a fish's air bladder.  If I had known that I wouldn't have eaten it, though the crab (in reality "krab") was good. 
The Combination Platter was put down on the table and looked kind of like Chinese antipasto, with two different things that looked like salami, something that looked like sweet and sour pork, and a mound of what I thought was rice noodles.  I chose one of the "salamis," a couple of the sweet and sours,and a big spoon of the rice noodles, which I love.  I had a chopstick full of noodles on the way to my mouth when our hostess started explaining about the "jellyfish."  I literally retched as I put it in my mouth, not wanting to be impolite, but managed to choke it down.  In truth, it wasn't bad--a bit too chewy for me, but I don't do adventurous eating.  If I know what it is, I can't eat it.   I remember my first boyfriend daring me to try his father's sweetbreads the first time we went out to dinner.  Heck, some bread that was sweet? I didn't understand the laughter.  It was very good.  It was years later before I found out what it was I had eaten.
The honey walnut prawns were familiar and delicious.  No problem there and I even ate the deep fried flounder, though it included eating the bones, which were friend crisp.  By this time I was taking very small portions of anything I was uncertain about.
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The chicken was also delicious, and I was glad that nobody was expected to eat the chicken head.
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When the 3 seafood delight came I pretty much passed it up. There were things in there that I was very suspicious of, but I did eat the mixed mushrooms and veggies, though it contained several types of mushrooms and I'm generally pretty squeamish about anything but plain old regular mushrooms.  But when I had taken a class from Martin Yan, he took us to a gourmet Chinese meal as well and the best thing on the menu was a dish that contained 7 different kinds of mushrooms.  Heck, I even took some of the noodle basket that the mushrooms came in.
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The rest of the meal -- noodles, rice and birthday cake, were pretty safe (and delicious)
I often wish I were more adventurous trying new foods, but I just am not.  Walt enjoyed everything at this banquet and I might have had my taste buds expanded if only my taste buds had been more open about trying new things!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sunday Stealing

I had originally intended to post this for Sunday, as I normally do, but after the Lamplighters Gala, it had to be postponed.

Part 2: Growing Up

15. How would you describe your childhood in general?
Relatively uneventful.  We were a more less typical 1950s family, except that we didn't have our own home. My mother was the dutiful housewife (until I was in high school, when she went to work). My father had a volatile temper (emotional, not usually physical) which made us walk on eggshells when he was home, but he was gone a lot because his job kept him away from home at least 2-3 nights a week (he worked the mail on a train between San Francisco and Los Angeles and back again)

16. What is your earliest memory?
Riding a train to Los Angeles with my mother. She tells me I was 18 months old at the time.  My memory is just flashes and snippets and very, very brief. I also remember an again brief moment when my sister was a baby (so I would have been somewhere between 4 and 5) when I wanted to be in the crib and drinking out of a bottle again. My mother let me, but it wasn't as great as I'd expected.

17. How much schooling have you had?
8 years Catholic grammar school, 4 years Catholic high school, 1 yr at UC Berkeley.

18. Did you enjoy school?
Neutral on grammar school (I was kind of a loner), loved high school, hated the school part of UC Berkeley, but loved all the socialization.

19. Stop and count, Since you were born until today; how many homes have you lived in?
1. The flat my parents rented in San Francisco from 1943 until about 1974, when they finally bought a house.
2. Dorm at UC Berkeley in 1961
3. Apartment in Berkeley, living alone
4. Apartment in Berkeley, living with Gerry (Ned's godmother)
5. Living with Mike and Char for about six months
6. Apartment in Berkeley, living alone
7. The first apartment Walt and I had after we married, in Berkeley
8. A house we rented in Albany (next door to Berkeley)
9. The house we bought in Oakland in 1971
10. The house we bought in Davis in 1973

20. While growing up, did you have any role models?
In grammar school, I was so taken with St. Terese of Lisieux ("The Little Flower") that I wanted to be a carmelite nun.
In high school, my typing teacher, Sister Anne, who was firsts my teacher, then my good friend for the rest of her life, until she died about 20 years ago.

21. While growing up, how did you get along with the other members of your family?
My sister (who was 4-1/2 years younger) and I were never close; I got along well with my mother, not so well with my father.  We were all united in our dislike of my grandmother (my father's mother), though I loved my mother's mother.  My two grandfathers were always kind of distant. I have 32 cousins, but throughout my life I was only close with my cousin Peach.

22. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
First, carmelite nun, then a nurse (until I thought about the smells and yucky stuff I'd have to deal with), then a Daughter of Charity.

23. What were your favorite activities 3 years ago?
Pretty much the same activities that I do today--reading, TV, photography, writing this journal, travel.  Things don't change much when you retire!

24. As a child, what kinds of personality traits did you display?
I was untidy, uncoordinated, shy, lazy, but good natured and lovable with a good sense of humor
I have not changed

25. As a child, were you popular?
No.  I had a few friends, but was never one of the popular guys.

26. When and with whom was your first kiss?
I don't remember when, but I was 13 and it was from Bill, who was my first boyfriend for 3 years, until he went into the seminary to become a Jesuit brother.

27. Describe any influences in your past that led you to do the things you do today.
Sister Anne, of course, had a HUGE influence on me.  I can't imagine where I would be today if I had not had a solid foundation in typing.
I credit Sister Mary William, the music teacher, with getting me started on writing, since she was also in charge of the school yearbook and newspaper and got me on the staff of both.
From my father I got my love of music my sense of humor.
I wish I could say I got the ability to keep house, iron, cook, or garden from my mother, but somehow those traits never "took" with me.

28. What's next?
Beats me.  Too many completely unexpected things have happened in my life for me to predict "what's next"? It's all an adventure.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Misty Water-Colored Memories

I don't think I've ever cried more in a funny show than I did today -- sad tears, happy tears, emotional tears, good tears -- and I was not alone.  I was glad we were alone in box seats where for once I could feel comfortable getting out a handkerchief and wiping my eyes, though why I should have felt uncomfortable at all I don't know, since everybody else was doing it.

Tonight was the 60th anniversary Lamplighters Gala show and what a tribute it was to the history of this theater company which has been a part of my life, sometimes a big part, sometimes a small part, since the early 1960s.

The emotion started before we even entered the theater.  There was a huge silent auction going on in the lobby and there was our friend Will Connolly's guitar being auctioned off.

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Will, who died in April, had performed with the Lamplighters for many, many years and his brother donated the guitar for the auction.  It went for much more than it was worth, but it was one of those 'priceless' items that you pay for the sentimental value.

But then I was walking across the lobby and saw, in front of me, my friend Ann Pool MacNab.  Ann and Orva Hoskinson founded the Lamplighters in 1952.   She and I became friends while we interviewed her for the first Lamplighter history.  We have remained friends all these years, though mostly the pen pal kind. We have been through a lot of emotional ups and downs together. She had told me in her last letter that she would not be attending the Gala, so to see her and her 8' tall husband Adrian (he's not really 8' tall; he just looks that way...and with the distinguished look of age, this Welshman looks more like Prince Charles every day!).   I was just so thrilled that they had come and insisted that Walt take a picture of us, since I don't think we have ever had a photo taken together before.

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She told me that Orva was going to be at the show too, as was the great contralto Marcia Hunt.  Suddenly this became a show that I was not only looking forward to seeing, but was excited to see.

The tears started very soon after the show began.  To try to explain a plot in these shows is pretty silly, but after the set up they did a slide show of the past 60 years.  The first picture was of sweet young soprano Peggy Overshiner, Ann's good friend, who died several years ago of Alzheimer's.  About a quarter way into the slide show I began to get weepy as I watched photo after photo of people who have left us, many too early, many of them my friends.  But it was a great retrospective of a huge body of work, a huge number of people whose paths have crossed the Lamplighters over the past sixty years.

Jane Hammett came out to sing "Refrain, audacious tar," from HMS Pinafore with a tenor I don't know (John E. Smyth).  I was immediately mentally catapulted back to 1984 and the non-Gilbert & Sullivan musical murder mystery, Something's Afoot.  I remember the search for the young ingenue had gone on for awhile and after the most recent audition, I asked Gilbert if he had cast anyone.  He lightly touched my arm, looked me in the eye and excitedly said "Yes. Jane Hammett."  I didn't know who Jane was at the time but Something's Afoot went on to be perhaps the most special show I ever worked on and I never see Jane without thinking fondly of that time before she was known.  She went on to tour with the touring Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera for three years and is now one of the Lamplighters directors, but I can't remember the last time I saw her on stage.

The songs continued, many of them popular numbers from previous Galas.  Rick Williams joined with Bill Neil and Chris Focht, all three friends, to do a number from The Mikado.  When Gilbert stepped down from performing and took up the baton as musical director, Rick Williams stepped into those patter roles that Gilbert had done so wonderfully and he made them his own.  But I never see him doing KoKo without seeing echoes of Gilbert's body language in his performance and it always makes me smile.

Geoff Colton reprised his magnificent "Major General Hospital" number from the 1983 Gala of the same name.  It was the first gala Gilbert and I wrote together, with David Witmer, the office PoohBah, and a soap opera fan who suggested the title. We had to convince Gilbert that the chorus could learn new words and could sing songs from shows not in the year's repertoire.  Major General Hospital was such a tremendous hit that it changed the course of Lamplighters Galas forever. In truth, compared to what the Gala writers do today, it was not a very good show, but it had some real bright spots and Geoff's "Major General Hospital" was definitely at the very top.

Shortly into the second act was a selection of the many "Three Little Maids" numbers that are a staple of Lamplighters galas.   There were "Three Little Nurses" from the 2005 Gala (The DaVinci Coda), "Three Weird and Ugly Hags" from 1992 (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's Excellent Adventure), "Three Little Maids auf Rhine" from Gilbert's last Gala in 1985, his magnum opus, A Star Is Born/The Ring of the Nederlander), and even The Kelly Boys performing "Three Little Outlaw Boys" from 1989's The Ballad of Buttercup Gap (which has my very favorite character name ever:  Benicia Martinez, which won't mean much if you don't live in Northern California!)

Then there were video clips.  I had known they were coming and I was 99.9% sure what would be shown, and I was right.  They started with Orva's incomparable performance as Reginald Bunthorne in the 1975 Patience, showed the indomitable June Wilkins' performance as Lady Jane in that same show, and Gilbert's final performance as KoKo in 1982, with Marcia Hunt as Katisha. 

There was a point at which our first Lamplighters History was used on stage and displayed prominently throughout the rest of the act.  THAT was a big surprise for Alison and me!  It's almost as if we had a part in the show as well.

There were more original numbers and then the chorus all gathered on stage to sing what has become a real Lamplighters anthem, "Eagle high" from Utopia Limited which the brilliant Barbara Heroux rewrote as "If we shadows have offended" to utilize Shakespeare's words.  It debuted in the 1992 Gala, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern's Excellent Adventure and was a perfect soundtrack to the "In Memoriam" slide show, which brought more than a few more tears as familiar faces of old friends passed by.

Company president Jim MacIlvaine introduced every important person in the company, including children of Lamplighters families, kids who grew up in the company, many of whom went on to perform with the company. and even Lamplighters grandchildren. There were also members of the Lamplighters Young People's program, which trains young singers to perform G&S and can be a stepping stone into the Lamplighters regular company. 

The stage was filled, but two more people had to be acknowledged, Ann and Orva, who came out on stage to thunderous applause and a standing ovation.  I sat there, tears rolling down my cheeks and wondering what it must feel like to know that you just wanted to get together with a few friends in 1952 and sing Gilbert & Sullivan, and now to see how far it has come.  The first productions were held in someone's garage and the newspaper critic who came had to sit on the garage steps because the folding chairs were all full.  To look around the 1,000 seat Herbst Theater and see all these people, some of whom have been attending shows since the 1950s (we have been coming since the 1960s), to see all the people who have performed with the group, to see the outreach into the community and know that a new generation is developing a love of Gilbert and Sullivan, and to see the entire audience standing and cheering for you.   I just hope it filled Ann and Orva's hearts as much as it did mine! 

When it was all over, I took a photo of Ann and Orva.

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After the show I managed to get around to talk to just about everyone I wanted to (except for Sally Shunsky, my loyal journal reader, whom I was sorry to have missed).  Jill Thompson was still dabbing at her red-rimmed eyes.  Jill came to San Francisco from England in 1977 and just thought she'd help out as a dresser for this little Gilbert & Sullivan company. She never left and went on to spend many years on the Board of Directors.

Walt and I finally left to go get some dinner.  As we walked out of the building, we looked across the street at City Hall, all lit up in orange, for the Giants 6-1 win in the second to last NLCS playoff game.

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As we walked to the car, thinking about what a great day it had been, the only quote that could be used was from The Mikado:  "Nothing could possibly be more satisfactory."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

St. Ursula

I always wonder, on quiet days like this, what I am going to write about when it comes time to put this journal entry together.  Today I resort to Catholic mythology.  Or Christian mythology.  Or German mythology.

Let me explain.

Walt found a PBS travel program of tour guide Bert Wolf (kind of a richer version of Rick Steeve).  He was taking a river cruise from Amsterdam to ... I can't remember where his ending destination was, but he was in Amsterdam last week and today in Cologne.  I missed the Amsterdam program,but watched the one on Cologne.

At first it was kind of your standard travelguide, and it was fun to see the interior of the magnificent Cologne cathedral again.

But then he visited another cathedral in Cologne, one that we hadn't heard about, and here is where it started to get weird.  As he toured the place with a priest guide, Wolf explained that St. Ursula and 11,000 virgins were slaughtered on this site by Huns some time in the 4th century.  The church is full of memorials to the martyrs.  Since the women supposedly were all beheaded there are lots of female busts on altars.  The tops of the busts are removable and inside are skulls supposedly found on the site, wrapped in cloth from medieval times.  In the basement the walls are filled with designs made out of bones, and even sayings written in bone.

Very creepy.

But the story gets better, and oh so Catholic, when I went to the Internet to check out St. Ursula.  The legend is apparently based on an inscription on the Church of St. Ursula in Cologne, built in the 4th or 5th century where it said that on this site "some holy virgins" were killed.

The number is supposedly closer to 2-11 virgins martyred, rather than 11,000.  The number 11,000 didn't come up until the 9th century. and may have been based on a mis-translation of the name Unidecimilla, a person, to mean 11,000, a number.   In fact, some speculate that there was one virgin martyr named Unidecimilla, a girl of about 11 years of age "which by some blundering monk was changed into eleven thousand."
And you thought spell check is bad TODAY!

The basilica of St. Ursula, which I am very sorry now to have missed, supposedly contains the ancient relics of the perhaps fictitious Ursula and her possibly nonexistant 11,000 companions.

I loved this quote:
[The basilica] contains what has been described as a "veritable tsunami of ribs, shoulder blades, and femurs...arranged in zigzags and swirls and even in the shapes of Latin words." The Goldene Kammer (Golden Chamber), a 17th century chapel attached to the Basilica of St. Ursula, contains sculptures of their heads and torsos, some of the heads encased in silver, others covered with stuff of gold and caps of cloth of gold and velvet; loose bones thickly texture the upper walls." The peculiarities of the relics themselves have thrown doubt upon the historicity of Ursula and her 11,000 maidens. When skeletons of little children, ranging in age from two months to seven years, were found buried with one of the sacred virgins in 1183, Hermann Joseph, a  Praemonstratensian canon at Steinfeld, explained that these children were distant relatives of the eleven thousand. A surgeon of eminence was once banished from Cologne for suggesting that, among the collection of bones which are said to pertain to the heads, there were several belonging to full-grown mastiffs. The relics may have come from a forgotten burial ground.
Whether Ursula and her 11,000 friends lived or not, whether they were slaughtered or not, the whole story is just so catholic, it seems, the delight in raising body parts to the status of holy relics and worshipping at the feet...perhaps literally...of people who may or may not have been the superheroes of their day. 

Can you imagine this appearing as a story in some tabloid newspaper, along with Bat Boy, alien abductions. and that story of the crazy town where you can be given a ticket for snoring in your own bed?

Today was the Big Game, Cal-Stanford (for those who don't know what "the Big Game" is), as well as the 30th anniversary of "The Play."  As for how the game went...let's just say there was no joy in Mudville this afternoon.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Best Laid Plans

Those who have known me for any length of time are going to be shocked at what I'm about to confess.

My plan today was to have lunch with a good friend I hadn't seen in four years, and I made sure I packed my camera to record the lunch...or at least the food (which was beautiful).  But in the end, I never took the camera out of my purse and didn't even think about it until I'd said goodbye to her and was getting back into my car.

So the Photo of the Day is from the first part of this very weird day, which definitely did not go according to plan.

 The PLAN was to go to Bloodsource for my usual blood donation, then go to the store to get just a couple of things, stop by Verizon, which is near the supermarket, and if there was nobody in there ask the guy about a couple of niggling problems I'm having with my phone, maybe stop and get my hair cut, come home, take a shower, and get on the road for the drive to Dixon, where I was meeting Lisa.

What could go wrong?

Well, first of all, there was a new phlebotomist and that almost always spells trouble.  She inserted the needle and sprayed me with blood in the process (but had covered me up, first, so it didn't get on my clothes) but then the blood did not flow. She poked and moved the needle around and could get the blood started, but it was going VERY slowly.  She called for help and a woman who usually does it without problem came to help, said my vein was "tricky" and she managed to get the blood flowing but still slowly.  Finally I had reached "the point of no return" (not quite sure what that means) and the blood was starting to clot in my arm and they had to give it up.  I'm now not able to donate again for 8 weeks because of the computer system recording that I actually gave blood today.
I was kind of disappointed.  This would have been my 40th donation and I'm not sure but I think on the books I get credit for donating today.  We'll see when I go back in December.

So then I went down to the supermarket, checked Verizon and found the shop empty.   Whew.  That NEVER happens.  I explained my problems, which have to do with the phone not consistently connecting to wifi, even here in the house, and the phone not turning off when I turn it off which runs the battery down.  The battery went from fully charged to fully empty in a matter of about 4 hours the other day.  Other times it will stay fully charged for a whole day.

Well, first of all, he told me he was removing this app from my phone because it was a real energy suck.  Now, I never knew what that app did because the OTHER guy who works in the store put it on for me last time I had a problem and told me it would help keep my phone from using so much battery so quickly.  Go figure.

But the guy couldn't figure out my other problems, so he called tech.  Turns out I couldn't talk with tech because the account is in Walt's name and I'm not listed as a valid user on the account.  Sheesh.  Damn male chauvenists!   But they agreed that the only possible solution, before considering giving me a replacement phone, was to completely reinstall the operating system.  That meant losing all of my apps and all of the information stored on those apps.  If I had been thinking clearly, I would have come home, copied down all the information I needed and taken the phone back tomorrow, but he told me the whole process would only take about 10 minutes, so I just went ahead and did it.  Figured it might be a nice way to clear out all the superfluous apps I had.

Nearly an hour later, he was still trying to finish it, but I had to leave, so he just gave me back the phone to let it continue updating.  By the time I got home, there was no time for a shower, and barely enough time to change clothes.  My hair (as you can see from the Photo of the Day) was pretty much a lost cause.  While changing clothes, I removed the bandage they put on at Bloodsource and blood started spurting out all over the place.  Scared Walt, for sure!  But I managed to get it stopped and a bandaid took care of it.  I figured heck, I was having lunch with a nurse.  If I started to bleed again, it would be no big deal.

I actually got to the tea room about 10 minutes early, and Lisa was already there.   Oh, man, was it good to see her!  She was always one of my favorite people when I worked for Women's Health.  We had such a close-knit family there until Sutter Medical Foundation came along and ruined everything.  Now we are scattered to the four winds and I almost never see anybody and I miss them all!

As we were settling in, we were doing the "what's new with you?" game and I said "how are the kids?"  I remembered the last time I saw her two boys they were very young...the oldest was maybe 7...?  I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach when she told me her oldest son, age 19, was killed in an accident a year and a half ago.  Oh I felt so bad I hadn't known.  She uses her family name professionally, and I didn't remember her husband's last name, so even if I'd seen the obituary, it wouldn't have struck me.  But I should have been there.   Those of us who belong to that club that nobody wants to join are a comfort when something like this happens.  I remember the couple that we relied on right after David died.  Their daughter had been gone many years, but I remember clearly the day she died...the first (of far too many) children from Davis that I knew who died.

So we chatted as only two grieving mothers can about the grieving process, about our kids, about their deaths, and about "how we are doing."  I think it was helpful because I could say the things that people who have not gone through this wouldn't think to say and know that she understood.

The lunch wasn't all sadness.  I had purchased a Groupon for the Linde Lane Tea Room (the link takes you to someone's blog with great photos of the place), where I had been for a birthday party a year or so ago.  When I bought the Groupon it was with the idea of having a nice high tea with Jeri when she was here in August, but her schedule was so fulll, there was never any time, so then I had to find someone to invite to join me.  Since I have no close friends in Davis, it really took me a long time to think of someone, but I'm so glad that I asked Lisa.  I hope it won't be another 4 years before we do this again!

I spent the afternoon starting to reinstall all the apps that I want to keep on my phone.  It's going to take awhile before I get it back to what it was before, but I have Word with Friends and Instagram back anyway, and those are the most important ones!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Such a Deal

I found out I am more out of touch with the real world than I suspected.

I have been getting Groupon offers which, for those who aren't on the internet, are usually great discounts on all sorts of things.  Groupon sends out special deals every day, anything from a big discount on a fabulous trip, or a special on massage, or a bunch of other things that I'm not interested in.  But there are a lot of food options too.  I've purchased Groupons for Mel's Drive-in in San Francisco, where we eat from time to time when we are in the city of a show.  I've purchased Groupons for local restaurants.  I once purchased a huge discount on scanning photos and transferring to a CD (I'm gradually working my way through the Lawsuit history on Groupons).

But when my Groupon offers for today appeared in my mail box, I simply couldn't believe it.

For only $29 (50% off the regular price of $58), this company will send you -- every week for a year -- a meal plan and shopping list for your nightly family meal.  I simply could not believe that someone would PAY to have someone draw up a meal plan and write out a grocery list.  And, if the ad is to be believed, some people are willing to pay almost $60 for the service.

Heck, I've been planning family meals and making up my own shopping list (usually simultaneously as I walk through the supermarket) for more than 50 years.

Well, I shook my head, laughed, shared the offer with Walt, he shook his head and laughed and I posted a message on Facebook.

Imagine my surprise when the comment I read was this:
that seems pretty cheap.. I don't know how much time you spending making your menu plan and list (although its probably a lot less time than it took 50 years ago), but for someone who hasn't done that very much, it could take a couple hours a week... So to save an hour of your time, you'd pay less than $1 an hour...
A couple of hours a week?  I can't imagine planning 7 days worth of meals taking more than 15 minutes tops, and that's stretching it.  More often, I base my "meal plan" (such as it is) on what I see when I walk through the store. What looks good? What's on sale? What's fresh? What will go with whatever I have in the fridge or pantry shelves at home?

But I guess I am part of a dying breed...people who actually cook dinner every night.  I watch commercials which show products which are frozen meals, and show Mom putting them in the oven and then serving her family a "home baked meal" (the operative word being "baked," not "made.") and how excited her family is.  This is advertised as "eat at home one night a week."

Used to be that you had tubes of cookie dough that you cut off in slices to bake for "home baked" cookies...now they come in little cubes because I guess cutting off slices was too complicated.  How can you eat cookie dough if your cookies come pre-formed and ready for baking?

We watch a program called "Check, Please, Bay Area," which I just love.  It's on the San Francisco PBS station and there is a moderator and 3 guests.  The guests submit the name of their favorite restaurant and all three of them visit all three restaurants and talk about them on the show.  We've found some great restaurants that way (that fabulous crab restaurant in San Francisco that we went to several months ago, for example).

On a recent show a guy recommended his favorite restaurant where he eats breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.  We do go out to eat from time to time, but not more than once a month (if that), and I can't even imagine eating 3 meals out every day!
But, as I say, I'm a dying breed.

I also watched a news report today about two guys who have come up with what sounds like a fabulous idea.  They are taking abandoned freight train cars and turning them into low-cost, energy-efficient homes.  Really cool.  One end is the size of a double bed with a bit of space on either side of it.  In the middle is a tiny kitchen, and at the other end is a small bathroom.  They look very nice when finished and the idea is to move them somewhere where there is a need for low income, affordable housing.

Wanna know how much they will cost?


Yeah, I know that is probably a great deal by today's home prices, but I can't help but remember that we paid $21,000 for our first house, which was about 1800 square feet and had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, an attic and a basement and a yard with a detached garage.  Yeah, it was 1972, but I can't relate to $25,000 being low income housing.

Of course my mother remembers when her mother-in-law talked my father out of buying a house in San Francisco because it would cost a whopping $2,000.

I think I'm going to go to bed now

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bet You Didn't Know

Some oddball facts I came across.  I know some of them aren't accurate (especially the ones about the statues of guys on horses), but I thought the list was interesting.

1. The most common name in the world is Mohammad.
2. CocaCola was originally green.
3. The names of all the continents end with the same letter that they start with.   (I guess you're supposed to leave off "North" and "South")
4. The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue.
5. There are two credit cards for every person in the United States.
6. TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the typewriter keyboard.
7. Women blink nearly twice as much as men.
8. You can’t kill yourself by holding your breath.
9. It is impossible to lick your elbow.
10. People say "Bless you" when you sneeze because when you sneeze, your heart stops for a millisecond.
11. It is physically impossible for pigs to look up into the sky.
12. The "sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick" is said to be the toughest tongue twister in the English language. (I wonder if whoever said that has ever read "Fox in Sox")
13. If you sneeze too hard, you can fracture a rib. If you try to suppress a sneeze, you can rupture a blood vessel in your head or neck and die.
14. Each king in a deck of playing cards represents great king from history.
Spades -- King David
Clubs -- Alexander the Great
Hearts -- Charlemagne
Diamonds -- Julius Caesar.
15. 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
16. If a statue of a person in the park on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle.
17. If the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle.
18. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
19. Question: What do bullet proof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers and laser printers all have in common?
     Ans: All invented by women.
20. Question:_ This is the only food that doesn’t spoil. What is this?
     Ans: Honey
21. A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out.
22. A snail can sleep for three years.
23. All polar bears are left handed.
24. American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first-class.
25. Butterflies taste with their feet.
26. Elephants are the only animals that can’t jump.
27. In the last 4000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.
28. On average, people fear spiders more than they do death.
29. Shakespeare invented the word ‘assassination’ and ‘bump’.
30. Stewardesses is the longest word typed with only the left hand.
31. The ant always falls over on its right side when intoxicated.  (I wonder who discovered THAT!)
32. The electric chair was invented by a dentist.
33. The human heart creates enough pressure when it pumps out to the body to squirt blood 30 feet.
34. Rats multiply so quickly that in 18 months, two rats could have over million descendants.
35. Wearing headphones for just an hour will increase the bacteria in your ear by 700 times.
36. The cigarette lighter was invented before the match.
37. Most lipstick contains fish scales.
38. Like fingerprints, everyone’s tongue print is different
39. There is a Butterfly in Brazil which has the color of chocolates and also smells like Chocolate
40. Giraffes can clean their ears with their tongue
41. Both Humans and Giraffes have the same number of bones in the neck

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chills and Thrills and Terror

I have been a critic for nearly 13 years.  In that time I have seen my share of shows that I didn't like, and reviewed shows that I suspected I was not going to like, but I have never refused to review a show, unless I was not going to be in town and couldn't review a show.

However this week I received a notice about an upcoming performance that chilled the marrow in my bones.
Upon arrival at “The Haunt at xx,” visitors will be led in groups of 15 by a Guiding Spirit to the first of seven performance stages. Be prepared for terror of every dimension as the cast employs its considerable talents and special effects hosting guests through eerie scenes of mayhem: The Bargain without Knowing; The Dismemberment; The Wandering; Finding Love in the Underworld; The Harrowing of the Soul; The Realm of the Wild Men; and The Wild Bride and Bridegroom. Audience experiences are intimate and immersive and include two mazes where demons and goblins dwell in and around shattered mirrors and dense, foggy marshes.
Did ya get that bit about "audience experiences are intimate and immersive"? It is also suggested that people come dressed in costume.

I don't want to be an old poop, but I am an old poop.  I threw myself on the mercy of my (new) editor.  I told her this is a show that I want to see less than having root canal without anesthetic while all of my fingernails are being pulled out simultaneously.

She told me she would excuse me and I didn't have to review it.

But would that mean the show would go unreviewed?  I recently arranged for someone to review a show for me when I was going to be out of town and that person made the decision that he didn't want to see the show, so he just didn't go.  This meant that all the work of all the actors went unreviewed and the theater company lost the opportunity of people who might have bought tickets based on the review.

I was very upset by that and thought it unprofessional that this reviewer had not been honest with me up front and had lead me to believe that he would review the show.

But aren't I doing the same thing if I refuse to review this Halloween themed show?  I am a bit more professional than that, so I have let my editor know that if she absolutely cannot find anybody to review, I will do it.  It will probably be a great, fun show for those who like that kind of thing, but the whole "intimate and immersive" thing just throws me into a panic and I am hoping that someone who actually likes   this sort of thing will jump at the chance.

It has always amazed me that someone like myself, who is SO shy and SO afraid of being in the public eye (in person...obviously being in the public eye in print doesn't bother me at all), gave birth to a whole litter of people who love performing, who have always been comfortable on stage, and who would, given the opportunity, jump at the opportunity to review this show...and have a fabulous time.

The show should be reviewed by someone who is looking forward to attending, not someone for whom the very idea of entering the theater fills her with terror.

Cross your fingers and hope there is an alternate reviewer out there!

I've always had a problem with Halloween anyway.  It brought out my biggest insecurities.  I always tried to be supportive of the kids, but felt that as a "good mom" I should make their Halloween costumes, not buy something cheap at the store, but my talents don't lie in that direction, sadly. The most inventive I ever got was "diaper man" when the older boys were in superhero costumes and the baby wore pink leotards and a blue cape.

And then there was the problem with trick or treat candy.  In those days it as a lot more popular than it is now and the kids would come home with big sacks full of candy.  That's five big sacks of candy and Mom having to decide how much they could have and when they could have it.  It was great when they were little and hadn't learned to count their candy and didn't notice when the Snicker bars (my favorite) disappeared.  Eventually they paid much closer attention.

And then when the kids moved out, there were the neighborhood kids coming for trick or treat which is a huge pain in the butt with three dogs there to either lunge at them or try to get out of the house.  I always wanted to put in a gate that would keep them in the house (thus not barking outside), but away from the door.  Ultimately it was easier to turn off the lights in the carport and not answer the door.

As Halloween approaches each year, I dread it because I know that no matter what part of it I look at, I'm going to feel guilty.

But then I see something like this...

But, oh dear God let there be another reviewer who wants to do this show...!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Dog Sandwich

You know how dull your life is when the highlight of your day is the arrival of a new Sentsy warmer.

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 My friend and former co-worker, Judie Pryor, recently became a representative for Sentsy, which adds scent to your room.  You use a low level light bulb in a container like that above, melt a scented wax cube in the little container on the top and voila!  Your room smells wonderul.

Judie started selling Sentsy some time after we had the Pergo put in.   I had been so thrilled to be rid of the dog smell in the living room that I had been experimenting with various kinds of room deodorizers but was never happy with any of them since they had a phony scent to them, so I decided to try a Sentsy, mostly to support Judie's new business, but I fell in love with it.  I had bought a couple floral smells and they seemed to last forever and I never had to think about it because the warmer was just always on.

I was so happy with it that I bought a small wall mounted unit for the bathrom and later one for the laundry room, which had developed an odd smell I didn't like.  That was going to be it.  However, when I had guests for lunch recently, I moved the Sentsy from the living room into the family room to give that the nice homey scent (by then I had purchased an apple pie scent--the first thing my guest said upon entering the house was "my something smells good!") and I loved having the family room smell good too, so I looked through the catalog, found the above model on sale and decided to order that for the family room.  Who knew that the little holes in the side for the light inside the warmer were heart shaped?  A bonus.

So that was the high point of the day, though we finally moved boxes from upstairs and the garage into the family room and I have started unpacking dishes and putting them back into the various cupboards that we emptied when we removed the furniture to get the room ready for the Pergo.  

I made what turned out to be a fabulous pork tenderloin roast, thanks to a recipe by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, and we settled in to watch Dancing with the Stars (even Walt has become a fan) and to have a strawberry shortcake to finish off the strawberries I bought at the berry stand this weekend.

But by 10 p.m., I wasn't feeling right and decided to go lie down.   I didn't think I was down for the night (but as it turned out I was) and thought I would be getting up in an hour to write this entry.  The advantage of going to the couch while Walt was still awake was that I could finally get him to take a picture of my nightly "dog sandwich," as I call it.  I'm the meat in the middle, Lizzie and Sheila are the bread, and Polly is the pickle.

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At night, the dogs are so antsy until Ifinally go to bed.   They pace back and forth for hours, Polly whines, Sheila runs in and out of the house to see if I'm ready yet.  When I finally lie down they immediately assume the position.  Polly hops up on my back, Lizzie jumps up on the table behind the couch, and Sheila lies down next to me, after standing by my side so I can pet her for a few minutes.

I just love this little "sandwich" that we have developed over the last couple of years.  Sheila would much rather sleep outside, but as long as I am in the living room, she sleeps with me.  I have gotten so used to Polly sleeping on my back like this that when I go on vacation, or sleep on my mother's couch, I miss her.  And Lizzie is Lizzie.  Lovable, goofball Lizzie.  She sometimes sleeps all night on the table, or she might hop down and move to a chair in the living room, but she has to be in the same room too.

I used to sleep in the recliner most of the night, but over the months, the dogs have weaned me of that and now I spend most of the night, at least the first part of it, lying down like a real person.  I think because of the dogs I am getting more sleep now.  It's a win-win situation.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sunday Stealling

A short one this time!

"The Who Are You Meme"

1. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Right now Ami Bera political ads.  They are BLANKETING the media, both for and against...and we aren't even in a district that gets to vote for (or against) Dr. Bera.

2. Where and when were you born?

February 1943, St. Francis Hospital San Francisco...and proud of being a third generation San Franciscan...we are a dying breed.

3. Where did your parents meet?

My aunt had met a guy (whom she later married) and went for cocktails with him at a bar.  He brought along his friend, my father, and my aunt called my mother to come down and join them.  She said she "had" to meet this guy.  My mother didn't make it the first night, but went the second night--and the rest is history.

4. Do you have any siblings? What are/were they like in four words?

I had a sister, 4-1/2 years younger than I.  She was murdered by her partner in 1971.  What's she like in four words?  Dead.  Lesbian.  Stubborn.   Photographer.

5. Where do you live now, and with whom?
In Davis, California, for the past nearly 40 years, with my husband of 47 years.   On this street.
Villanova.jpg (114568 bytes)

6. What is your occupation?
Part-time theater critic, full time retiree.

7. Write a full description of yourself.

Full, eh?  5'6", salt and pepper hair, squinty eyes that are hazel (or "green with yellow flecks"), round but not firm or fully packed, generally dressed in clothes that are rumpled and covered with dog hair.  Actually, kind of like this:

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8. To which social class do you belong?
One of the 47% about whom Mitt Romney cares nothing.  The feeling is mutual.

9. Do you have any allergies, diseases, or other physical weaknesses?

Probably have a lot of low-level pollen and pet hair allergies which have never been diagnosed (could explain my constant coughing for the past 60 or so years). 

10. Are you right- or left-handed?


11. What does your voice sound like?

I've never paid attention.  I have been told that it is softer than the stereotypical American voice.  (Walt would probably say I mumble)

12. What words and/or phrases do you use very frequently?

A couple of overused 4-letter words, "Dinner!" (yelled at either the dogs, or Walt, depending on what food is being served), "I always think there's a band, kid." "Have a nice day." "No problem."

13. What do you have in your pockets?

I rarely have pockets, so I never think to use them when I do.   Occasionally I will put my cell phone there, but am always afraid it will fall out.

14. Do you have any quirks, strange mannerisms, annoying habits, or other defining characteristics?

If I'm driving the car, you can tell when I'm sleepy because I start scratching my head.  When I cry, my face gets blotchy and remains so for an hour or more, which is difficult because I am a "Spitzmuller" (my grandmother used to say), which means I cry at everything...sunsets, Hallmark commercials, supermarket openings, etc. I'm sure I have a lot of annoying habits, but why bring them up?