Monday, December 31, 2012

iPad Hair

I knew the iPad would be a great toy for me, but I had no idea all the ways it would change my life.  I certainly never expected that it would have such an impact on my hair.

As I approach my 70th birthday, in 2 months, I have come to the realization that you expect parts of the body to slow down, but there are signs of aging that I never really expected.  For one thing, my typing speed has probably been cut in half, partly due to the numb fingers on my right hand that nobody seems to be able to do anything about and partly because though at one time I could type 135 words per minute with few-to-no errors, now I sometimes make 3 errors in one word, if it's a long word.   At first it was annoying, now I just accept it and am glad that I don't have a kind of condition (yet) which would prevent me from being  able to type at all.

Another aging thing that I have discovered over the years is that my hair has changed.  For so long, my haircuts at Supercuts always went the same way.   They'd ask how I want it cut, I'd give them some vague instruction and laugh that my hair always does what it wants to do anyway due to the wave in it, they start cutting and midway through the cut invariably the cutter comments on what nice, thick hair I have.

A few years ago, I began to wonder if I was losing my hair.  Oh, it didn't fall out in clumps, but there always seemed to be more hair in the drain after a shower than I remembered before and it seemed that the hair on top of my head was not as thick as it used to be.

At the same time, the cutters stopped telling me what great hair I had and last time someone actually asked me if I wanted some product that would give it more oomph.  

Who knew I'd been oomphless all these years?

The last few cuts didn't suit me either.  My hair was still doing what it wanted, but it wasn't what I wanted any more.  I seemed to be developing cowlicks where I'd never had them before.  Fortunately, I'm not particularly vain (for good reason), so I've just gone with however I can make it look OK so I can go out in public and not scare the horses.

But then I got the iPad.  I knew that I would love playing with an iPad, but I didn't realize how it could do about 80% of what I do on the desktop.   I can't write my journal on it because I use software that can't be installed.   And there are some other things that are better/easier to do on the desktop, but pretty much for all other intents and purposes, the iPad, especially now that it has a great keyboard, is my computer of choice.

It means that I can do all of the stuff I normally do on the desktop from the comfort of my recliner, instead of sitting on a hard chair at my desk.

At night, as I have often said, I start the sleep cycle on the couch in the living room, but wake up at some point and move to the recliner, where I finish out the night--or not, depending on whether my body has decided to have insomnia or not.

Because I know I will be waking up at the end of my sleep night in the recliner, I keep the iPad on the table next to the recliner.  It means that I can do all the normal things in the morning--check e-mail on both Google and my DCN account, check "That's My Answer," check Facebok and Twitter, see what the day's headlines are, etc., all with barely any perceptible movement on my part, so that dogs don't realize I'm awake and aren't immediatly there demanding food.

einstein.jpg (12086 bytes)But THAT means that my head rests on the recliner for hours on end as I work on the iPad and by the time I get up, my hair has settled into a day's style that somewhat resembles Einstein's on a bad day.

It stands up, it flies off in odd directions, and the back looks like a rat's nest.  I try to smooth it down with water on a brush and that works until the hair dries and then it starts to creep off in its own direction again.

The only thing that really helps is to wash it, but that only lasts until I sit in the recliner with the iPad again and begin to work once more.

I truly never realized that iPad Hair would be a problem adding the new gadget to my life, but it certainly seems to be.  However, the trade-off in the convenience of being able to use the iPad in the warm family room while the dogs don't know I'm awake seems a reasonable one to make.

We will be starting the new year with our friends from the old Davis Comic Opera Company, as we have done every year for the past five or six years.  We rarely see any of these people throughout the year, unless there is a funeral to attend, so  I am looking forward to having home made soup, maybe playing the name game, but mostly laughing and getting caught up.  At midnight we will have our champagne, kiss everybody, and head home, and probably be asleep by 12:30 a.m.

Thanks again to Richard and Jennipurr for another year of Holidailies! I look forward to participating again next year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Movie! A Movie!

Alert the media!  We have seen a movie!  Our first in 2012 (and I daresay probably our last for this year!)

Walt asked if I was interested in seeing Lincoln this afternoon and I literally jumped at the chance.  I've wanted to see the movie ever since it came out.

We went at 3 p.m. and fortunately got there early enough to get my favorite seats, because within 10 minutes the theater, even this long after the movie's opening, was just about full.

I. loved. it.  As many have said, even though you know how things are all going to play out, Spielberg does such a masterful job that he creates great tension as everyone in the House chamber waits anxiously for the outcome on the vote on the 13th ammendment to the Constitution.  In listening to the arguments for and against, it made me think that this is probably similar to debates going on on many gay rights issues that have been debated in the House lately.

If Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't get an Oscar, he was robbed.  Sally Field may be up against some fierce competition, but she, too, gave a masterful performance in a role that, according to her, she had to really fight to get.  But having seen her performance, it's hard to imagine anyone else playing Mary Todd Lincoln.   As for James Spader as the scoundrel W.N. Bilbo, I didn't recognize him, but Walt did and said that with that cigar he frequently smoked, he needed William Shatner to be with him.

As always, we stayed through the credits.  If not, we never would have known that Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith had a bit part as one of the "shouting women" in a scene.  Or that Kevin Kline--yes "the" Kevin Kline--was a "wounded soldier."  Now I want to see the movie again to see if I can spot those two!

It was a nice way to escape from all that's going on around here right now, if only for a few hours.

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This morning I received a note from my cousin Donna, asking me to post the following information on the Caring Bridge site I set up to keep people informed about Bob's condition:

Dearest Family,
Our dear Bob is not doing as well as hoped. Peach has asked me to share this picture from Christmas of Bob and his beloved Sophie and to let you all know he does not have a lot of time left here with us, though it could be up to 6 months. Hes not really responsive and we need to send him our love and light and prayers and hope that the time he is here will be as gentle and easy and loving as he is and always has been. Please, if you want to contact Peach, do so through facebook or the Caring Bridge Page that Bev created. These are difficult times for the family and we all need to give as much support as possible in our own ways. We will keep you updated on what is going on, but for now please hold our family close in your hearts with love, especially our Peach and Bob.
Much love to all, and have a wonderful New Years
~ Donna

As soon as I had posted Donna's update to Caring Bridge I called Peach and we had a good conversation and cried together.  They are meeting to decide the way to go with him, whether hospice care or long-term care.  Hospice care seems out of the question since it would involve moving him home and Peach is just not physically able to care for him 24/7.
It's at times like this when I am angry with how our system works.  If this were Sophie, the dog, who were in this condition, Peach would hold her in her arms as a veterinarian gave her a shot which would let her peacefully leave this life.   But because Bob is a human being, there have to be decisions made about how to keep him as pain-free and comfortable as can be, while the family sits around watching him die.   Somehow it just doesn't seem fair...or humane.

I picked up e-mail after Peach and I finished our conversation and there was a note from one of the Lamplighters letting us know that someone we have known since the 1960s has been diagnosed with Stage 4, inoperable pancreatic cancer and is now on Hospice care.  She's a wonderful person, a wonderful actress and director and this will be a great loss to those who have been closer to her in the past couple of decades.

I also called my mother to give her the update on Bob.  I've talked with her three times since we got home from Santa Barbara on Wednesday and each time she asks me if we are home yet, when we got home, and if we had a good Christmas.  This has been another proof of the theory someone expressed to me that when someone with memory problems has another physical problem (she's had mild flu symptoms this week and just wasn't feeling well over Christmas), it affects the memory.  I am hoping that now that she is starting to feel better, her memory will improve a bit too, as it has in the past.

As soon as Peach feels she can take a day off, we are going to my mother's for another overnight.  Won't call it "cousins day," but I think she desperately needs both a day away, and a day with my mother, who has been her surrogate mother since her own mother died many years ago. She agrees.  But first all the paperwork needs to get done and Bob's situation needs to be settled.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Year in Books

I am in the middle of reading a Moliere play for the Shakespeare Book Club, to which I was invited for January 5.  I may or may not finish it before the end of the year, so I thought I would take today to talk about my year in books.

For several years, I have been keeping track of the books I read, both the number of books and the number of pages, and I made a decision last year.   In 2009, I read 32 books (15,904 pages); in 2010 it was 40 books (15,811 pages), in 2011 it was 41 books (14,701 pages).  The number of books was going up, the number of pages was going down!

I decided that in 2012 I wanted to aim for 50 books and, a lot having to do with working in a book store and trying to read a book a day while there, I succeeded beyond my wildest expectations.  Not counting the Moliere, I have read 77 books, a total of 24,549 pages.

Now, most of those books were lightweights and some were downright silly (those I read at the book store.  I also included audio books in the list, since I feel those qualify, even if someone is reading them to me.  So I decided to do a breakdown of the kinds and types of books that I read this year.

- 31 were "real books" I read at the book store
- 24 were Kindle books (4 of those were book club selections)
- 12 were "real books" I read at home
- 10 were audio books

Using the classifications I use on my Kindle these are the genres that I read

- 26 were what I call "blood and guts" books (crime drama)
- 20 were contemporary fiction
- 16 were biographical or autobiographical
- 4 were "classics"
- 4 were history
- 3 were historical fiction
- 3 were "oddball" (e.g., the Australian Akubra hat) 
- 1 was sci fi

I went through my list to see which I would name as the best book I read in 2012.  I decided it was a toss-up among three of them.

"Book of Illusions" by Paul Auster was the first book I read for the book club I had just joined and it cemented my decision to stay with the club (though subsequent books haven't had the same impact!) About a fictitious movie director and the hunt for him. "Auster writes with such convincing detail that the first part of his book reads almost like a documentary, so much so that I wanted to google Hector Mann and find out what Wikipedia had to say about him."

"The Elephant Whisperer" by Lawrence Anthony (who has since died) and Graham Spence is the story of the wilderness reserve Anthony set up in So. Africa and the herd of elephants he adds to the place, the difficulties he experiences, and the grudging mutual respect they came to have for each other.  A P.S. to the book (not in the book, of course) is that when Anthony died recently, his wife reported that the elephants walked miles across the reserve to their house, where they had never been before, and stood for a day, seemingly to give respect to his spirit, and then they turned around and walked away again.

The third is Diane Keaton's autobiography, "Then Again."   This is unlike any Hollywood autobiography you're likely to read and is funny, intelligent, and a tear jerker.  It is a wonderful tribute to her mother, more than anything else. and I loved it.

Honorable Mention would have to go to "The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street," Helene Hanff's story of her first visit to London.   You may recall that Hanff's story was first told in "84 Charring Cross Road," which detailed her growing friendship with the staff of a little book store during the years following WWII.  By the time she was able to afford to go to London, the store had closed and its manager, her friend, had died, but her joy at finally being in London is infectious and I loved the book.

As for the "worst" of 2012, the scum at the bottom of the list is also a toss-up between two books. "The Stupidest Angel," by Christopher Moore was also a book club selection I was looking forward to reading because I had enjoyed Moore's "Lamb:  The Gospel according to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal."  However, I found absolutely nothing to like in "Angel" and was sorry I had wasted time on it. I felt it should be renamed "The Stupidest Book."

Sharing the bottom spot would be James Patterson's "Zoo," which Amazon says is "the book Patterson was born to write."  If that is the case, it was a misspent life.  Time magazine's reviewer also said it was Patterson's best book. This story was pure crap from start to finish.  It was so bad, I didn't even add it to my "Books of 2012" list, but did write a review on Good Reads, if you're interested (**spoiler alert**:  I tell the whole story, so you don't have to read the book itself)

As for the weirdest book of 2012, it would have to be "Driving Mr. Albert," the story of a guy who takes a cross-country trip with an 84 year old pathologist and, in the pathologist's suitcase, a mayonnaise jar containing Einstein's brain, 40+ years after the scientist's death.

I think it unlikely I will top my 77 books next year, but I will try.   It would be nice to shoot for 100, but I'll be happy to just keep reading and discovering new and interesting things to read.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Touch of Adrenalin Helps

Note:  All the Christmas pictures are now uploaded to Flickr.

Walt and I are both totally discombobulated as to what day of the week it is.  We just got home from a nice visit in Santa Barbara.  It should be Tuesday.  But it's Thursday.  It's not helped by the fact that all TV programs are in reruns right now, so our DVR is only recording Jeopardy and not much else.

It helped that I worked at Logos today.  If I'm at Logos, it must be Thursday.  And though the touring company of Peter Pan opened last night, the PR guy got a special dispensation for me to see it tonight instead, so it was going to be a quick dinner after work and then off to Sacramento.  Walt picked up Chinese food on his way to pick me up and we went on home, filled our plates and settled in to watch Jeopardy.  

That's what we always do before one of these touring Broadway shows.   We watch Jeopardy and when it is over, we head to Sacramento for the 8 p.m. curtain and usually have a good 10 minutes to spare.

I don't know what it was that made me decide to check e-mail at commercial time for Jeopardy, but I just did a quick pass to see if there was anything interesting.  There was an e-mail from the PR guy for Peter Pan reminding me that for this show, the curtain was 7:30 instead of 8.  At that moment it was 6:45 and Walt was just starting to re-fill his plate.  I told him we had to leave NOW.

We were on the road within 5 minutes and, miraculously, I got out of the car at 7:15 a block from the theatre and left Walt to park the car.  I told him I'd leave his ticket at the ticket window.  I actually got my ticket with 10 minutes to spare and, also miraculously, Walt managed to park and get to the theater before I got my ticket.  We were in our seats with a good 3 minutes to spare.  I don't want to cut it that close again!

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As for the show, it was amazing.  Oh, it was amazing for the production values, but as I watched Cathy Rigby doing Peter Pan....again...and watching all those aerial acrobatics--twirling, somersaulting high above the stage, flying out over the audience sprinkling pixie dust, and all the other moves that you would expect from a 2-time Olympic gymnast--I wanted to know how old she is actually.   I googled her during intermission (love those smart phones) and discovered the woman is SIXTY YEARS OLD!!!!!  When she did the show back in 2004, it was her "farewell tour" and I was surprised that she had decided to do it again.   But...did I mention that the woman is sixty?  

I had just turned 60 when I went to Australia in 2003 and was proud that I was able to climb a frigging ladder.  Once.

There was one of those serendipity moments at Logos this afternoon, which make working there such fun.  A woman came up to the desk to purchase two books.  One was a book on weaving and the other was a book on spinning.  It had a picture of a spinning wheel on the front of it and she was telling me that she knew the woman who had written the book, which seemed to be like a self-published book.

At the same time, a guy came up to buy a Feng Shui book and glanced at the books the woman was buying.

"I'm glad to see you bought that spinning book," he said.   I thought about buying it for my ex, but I think she is trying to get rid of books, but she has a big collection of books on spinning."

They talked a bit more and the more they compared notes it turns out that his ex was the woman from whom the woman had purchased her spinning wheel.  She said she knew her name because it was carved into the body of the spinning wheel.  He said he was the one who told her to do that because the previous owner had carved her name on it and he told his then-wife that instead of sanding the old name off, she should add her name to the spinning wheel in the hope that the next person who owned it would do the same--which this woman was planning to do.

I asked if either of them knew a friend of mine, who is a spinner, and both of them did.
I just love days like this!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

No Pot of Gold

When I write these entries, I take the previous day's entry, delete the text and start writing the new entry.  When I travel, everything gets stored on a flash drive and when I get home transferred over here to my desktop.  Imagine my surprise this morning when I went to call up the entry for the 26th from the flash drive and find that the whole file had been renamed and all of my files looked like this:

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Needless to say, none of the file was able to be opened.  I'm going to have to do a lot of re-creating today.  Sigh.

We didn't exactly find the pot of gold on our drive home from Santa Barbara yesterday, but with the intermittent rain and sunshine, we certainly were accompanied by our share of rainbows for a good portion of the trip.

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Sometimes it was a bit of a rainbow like this, sometimes it was a   full arc stretching from one side of the highway to the other, sometimes it was bright, other times it was fading, but I saw more rainbows on a drive yesterday than I think I have ever seen before.

The day had started with everyone crowding into Joe's little home office to have a Skype chat with his daughter Jocelyn in the Boston area, and her daughter Charlee (who is just a couple of weeks older than Lacie).

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With five people in front of me in the room, I couldn't get close to the computer, so since I don't know Jocelyn all that well, I opted to sit in the living room with my iPad catching up on Twitter instead.

Sambo.jpg (69875 bytes)We finally packed up and were ready go leave shortly after noon.  Our first stop was at Tom's to pick up a gift he wanted us to bring home for Marta.  They were already gone, so we didn't see the girls.  Then we went down into Santa Barbara proper to the last remaining Sambo's restaurant to buy postcards.  

I just love stuff like this.  Over a year ago, we had breakfast at Sambo's, which is directly across from the beach and has a great menu, and I bought postcards of the illustrations that used to decorate the Sambo's chain restaurants across the country.  They are all gone now, but this one, the original Sambo's (named because the guys who started it were named Sam and Bo -- the book tie-in came later) still remains and they still sell the postcards.  At that time I was keeping my pen pal blog and I posted pictures of the postcards.  About a week ago, I received an e-mail from a guy named Clinton Melander who had seen the photo.  He turns out to be the son of Vernon Melander, who painted the original pictures in 1960!  He told me all about living in Culver City and his father being an artist who had been commissioned to do the Sambo's pictures and how they were created.  He said that if I had any postcards left, he would love to buy them from me.  My cards are long gone, but I went and bought a set for him and he is thrilled  to hear that he will have his own set.  "Vernon Melander passed away a few years ago but left a remarkable legacy of images and feelings that exist in hearts and minds of thousands if not millions of people that have looked upon his work," he writes.

Postcards at hand, we headed north for that very long drive.  We were listening to David Baldacci's "The Forgotten," which, unlike the last book I chose, was perfect for this trip because it is only 11 hours long, so we were able to finish it before we got home again (it's an 7-8 hr drive, roughly).  The last book was so long it took us forever, with trips to and from Sacramento, to finally get to the end of the book.  A good book definitely makes the miles pass faster!

We tried to stop at our usual V's Cafe in King City, but they had taken the week off for Christmas vacation (the nerve of them!) so we went to Denny's instead.  I was happy to see they still hhad their "Gandalf Gulp Melt" on the menu, a turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry mustard), so I could have a turkey sandwich the day after Christmas after all.

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The thing is so big, I brought half of it home to have for lunch today.

Our waitress was a real sweetheart and so efficient that I decided to do a "random act of kindness" and give her a huge tip, almost the cost of the meal itself.  She was touched because she is a law student and all her tip money goes to pay her school expenses.
As the sun was setting, we were heading through some weird weather between the Gabilon Mountains and the Coast range, with ominous black clouds to our left and clear skies to the right....

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...while way off to the right there was a full moon.

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We were home around 8 or so to ecstatic dogs. If you ever feel unloved or unappreciated, get a dog.  The happiness they exhibit when they see you again, whether you've been gone 5 minutes or 5 days, will warm the cockles of your heart.   Polly positively did pirouettes, twisting her body in circles in mid air, tail wagging furiously, while Lizzie just climbed into my lap, rolled over on her back and gave a big sigh.  "You're home at long last!"

I curled up under the fantastic new blanket Alice Nan gave me, with Polly at my side again, while we caught up on the last 3 days of Jeopardy and I fell asleep before I got this entry written.  So I have now done it and can start unpacking.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Worth 1,000 Words

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, I'll save you a lot of reading by mostly showing you how our Christmas went!  We got The Text from Tom that Lacie had just gone down for her nap, and that we should plan to come to their house anytime after 3.  To kill time, these guys played a game...

..while Olivia and I fooled around on our iPads.

At 3 we packed up our food (no I did not drop either pie!) and went to Tom and Laurel's.  Bri was there in the front patio to show us the new bike (with a bell) that Santa had brought her.

Santa also brought the girls a trampoline.

and Brianna was as excited as she looks in this picture.  In fact, at some point during the day I recalled the question from The Music Man where Harold Hill asks Tommy Djilas if he had ever done anything with perpetual motion and Tommy responds that he "almost had it a couple of times."  Clearly Tommy never studied Bri, who was a picture of perpetual motion all afternoon.

Santa had also brought walkie talkies, which seemed to work best when people were right next to each other...

..though when Walt and Norm got hold of them they stood there within sight of each other saying profound things like "can you hear me now?" and reminding me of what they must have been like when they were 10 years old or so.

Joe helped Bri build a house out of something that looked like gigantic tinker toys...

...while Tom kept Lacie busy outside.

The turkey got put into the deep fryer...

...and was delicious (very moist!)

Lacie took a milk break

The rest of us sat down to a wonderful dinner.

Joe had made the dressing, which was some of the best I'd ever had, which is saying something since I didn't think I liked cornbread dressing, but this was fabulous.

After dinner there were presents.

silly straw glasses
And yes, Walt fell asleep...

...but so did Joe...

All in all, a good time was had by all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

This entry is dedicated to my friend Charlotte, with whom I have shared so many pumpkin pie experiences.  Where the heck were you tonight, when I needed you??

I was GOING to write about our lovely afternoon with Brianna and Lacie, about half an hour playing "find me under the blanket" and Bri's impression of Jacob Marley (left).  I ended up reading her "Mickey's Christmas Carol," with Goofy playing Jacob Marley.  I thought the story might be too advanced for her, and maybe in spots it was, but she was glued to it and, as you can see, makes a very scary Jacob Marley herself.

Lacie was very cute and this video is one that I took of her trying to say "ho ho ho."  It seems so difficult go get SMILING pictures of her, which is too bad because she has such a great smile and she smiles all the time, as you can see in this video.

But the afternoon's activities had to take a back seat to my evening, as far as this journal entry is concerned.
Alice Nan and Joe had been invited to a couple of parties and invited the rest of us to go along.  Well, I'm not a party person under the best of circumstances and the idea of going to two parties with people I don't know was not at all appealing to me, so I sent everyone off, and I would stay home and make the pies for Christmas dinner.

I had brought all my "tools" for making the crust, my specialty.  I had my special rolling pin and my Cuisinart, which makes it SO much easier, though I can (and have) make the dough without it.  But I knew it would be easier with it.  I also brought the plastic thing I have been rolling dough in. I have been making pie crust most of my life and up until about 5 years ago, I had perfect crusts.  Then suddenly for some reason I simply could NOT roll out the crust.  It was so frustrating.  Something I had done all my life and now I could not do it.
My friend Mary told me about this thing that you put your dough in, zip it up, and roll the dough inside the enclosure to the proper shape.  It was great. My crusts were once again perfect.

Then two years ago, suddenly that didn't work any more either.  I don't know why.  This time I decided I'd refrigerate the dough (they way you are supposed to) and had high hopes for a perfect crust again.  The first crust wasn't perfect, but it was decent.  Something wild and crazy exploded in my brain and I decided that it had worked so well, I could toss aside my plastic helping bag and go back to the way I used to roll out pie crusts, on the kitchen counter.

Bad idea.  Terrible idea.  I gathered up the bits and pieces of the dough and tried to rescue it by rolling inside the plastic, but that didn't work either and I ended up taking bits and pieces of dough and pressing them into the side of the pie dish.

This looks better than it actually is, and the dough may be extra salty because of the tears I cried getting it to look this good.

I figured I was home free because the hard part had been done.  Ahhh...I was so naive!

First step in making the filling was opening the canned pumpkin.  An impossible task. I struggled and struggled and struggled and struggle with the damn electric can opener and it simply would NOT open the can.  I searched for a hand held and couldn't find one.  The can opener was only tearing up the label on the pumpkin can, so I (wisely) cut it off the can so as not to use the printed recipe, which has always been Char's and my bible.

Frantic, I realized I had to find something else, so I thought I would use a church key (why do they call it a church key?) which started to work, but I was afraid it was going to bend out of shape. I was getting nowhere and making a huge mess and the air was blue with my "expletives deleted."

At this point, the more I tried to use the church key, the more the lid just pressed down into the pumpkin, but wasn't open enough to get any pumpkin out and I couldn't get another cut from the church key.
I finally decided to try the shears (pictured there on the left) and I was able to cut through enough of the can that I could fold it back and scrape pumpkin out of it.

When I finally had enough pumpkin out of the can (couldn't get it all with tearing my hands), I went to add spices.  A year or so ago, I couldn't find cinnamon here and Jeri ground whole cinnamon to use.  It turned out that year Joe and Alice were having ant problems and found cinnamon was a good deterrent so they had this huge container of cinnamon in their bathroom and it never occurred to me to look there.

But because of that, I knew there was cinnamon here.  But could I find it?  Of course not!  I ranted and raved and tore things apart, but no cinnamon.  I saw it in Joe's hands this morning, for crying out loud.  Walt put it on his cereal this morning.  I finally called Walt at the party they were attending and he told me it was in on the second to the bottom shelf of the cupboard next to the stove in the back. 


(see the arrow?) These are the spices in front of the frequently used cinnamon:

One of those is turmeric.  TURMERIC?  Turmeric in front and cinnamon in back?  Not only that, but this is what the cinnamon looked like.

Well.  I did find it.  I did use it.  The filling got made the the pies got baked and I didn't drop either one of them.  They actually don't even look bad.

I even cleaned the kitchen up because it was a bloody disaster.  With two nicely baked pies and a clean kitchen, I was able to sit and relax and get over my panic of the evening before the partiers got home (10 p.m.).  But there were points during the evening that I almost wished I had gone to the parties instead of staying home to bake pies.  It was that bad.

Monday, December 24, 2012

That Long Drive Again

We spent the morning getting packed and getting the house ready for Jessica, who was going to come and take care of the dogs while we were gone.  We got on the road at about the time I hoped to. 
Unfortunately, the weather was not looking promising.

It's actually more rainy than this picture looks.  I was hoping that as we continued down the state, the rain would let up, but that was not to be!

Off and on, it was pretty much like this for the whole 8 hours.

We stopped at Mike & Char's, since it was right on the way, because Charlotte, wonderful Charlotte, had bought a Logitech keyboard for my iPad and it had just been delivered, so I was able to get it to bring with me here to Santa Barbara.

Back on the road again, down through Salinas heading for Gonzales for lunch.  Every time we leave Salinas and drive along the valley between the Gabilan Mountains and the Coast range I am reminded of Steinbeck's "East of Eden" and his wonderful description of the area.  It was what made me fall in love with that book, and what improved my writing whenever I was reading anything by Steinbeck.

Today the Coast Range had little wisps of fog rising out of it, like a toddler with curls just beginning to grow on a bald head.

It was nearly 3 when we arrived at the Burger Queen, and I smiled when I saw how it was tarted up for Christmas.

We got here around 7.  Everyone was over at Tom's watching the 49er game.  When we turned it on and saw the score, the Seahawks soundly trouncing the 9ers, we were just as glad that we were here and not sharing Tom's anguish.

My new iPad was the subject of much discussion.  Alice Nan said she didn't know I had gotten one because, as she frequently tells me, she doesn't read my journal, but Olivia knew and she was eager to try the new keyboard. 
Of course, like all us computer geeks, she worked at adding apps and podcasts and I don't know what all, to make it like her iPad.  I can hardly wait to try all the new goodies.

But now I'm off to sleep.  It's been a long day.  Walt did all the driving.  I'm not sure how he is still awake....

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Comes the Deluge

We have been meaning to drive around Davis and look at all the decorated houses ever since the whole Christmas season started, but we keep forgetting to do it.  Finally tonight was going to be the night.  It had been a quiet day.   My mother said she still wasn't feeling well, so we gave up on the idea of taking her out to dinner for Christmas.  I had a nap, during which Walt rode his bike down to the rental car place to pick up the car we will be taking to Santa Barbara.  He rubber-banded a note to the phone to tell me where he was, because he was expecting word from the Honda Hospital about the car.  Sure enough they called to say that it was all fixed.

So as soon as he got home with the rental car, we got back in the rental car and drove to get the real car.  Then as soon as both cars were back home, I drove him back downtown to where he'd left his bike so he could ride it home.  We finally had all of our vehicles at home.

The other day I had seen a sign for Dungeness crabs at the newly opened Whole Foods here in town.  I hadn't been in the store yet but I decided to go get a crab for dinner.  Of course as soon as I got in the car and was headed to the store, the rain, which had been threatening all day, started, but the parking lot wasn't crowded and I was able to get in, get my crab and get back to the car without getting too wet.

I asked Walt if he wanted to eat first or look at lights first.   He chose to eat first, so we dove into that lovely crab.

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As we were pulling out of the driveway, the skies opened up.  I swear it rained so hard I wasn't sure if we were looking for Santa or Noah.  But we decided we were going to do this thing and so we mushed on, "mush" being a surprisingly appropriate word at this point.  It was raining so hard it was difficult to see out the window.

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Walt was pulling over from time to time to check the map that the newspapers had printed of the prize winning houses.

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When we got to the first house, it was raining, but I was going to hop out and take a picture anyway, until the rain started raining harder and harder and I didn't want to drown the camera, so Walt did a u-turn and pulled up opposite the house so I could roll the window down quickly and take a picture.  This house won for "best use of space"

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Even with the window being rolled down only for a couple of seconds, the right side of my body was still plenty wet.

We went on to see lots of other houses, blending religious (not much) with secular (lots).  It seemed that the theme was "if it will light up, we'll find a place for it."  And somehow when all the lights are lit, who cares if the 3 Wise Men are walking with a reindeer that dwarfs them in size or that an angel lights the way to the mailbox where you can mail your letters to Santa.

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We had decided not to go and see my old boss Derrick's house.  Derrick, no longer a full time employee of the newspaper, is now eligible for a prize and handily won for best "theme" house.  His Peanuts and other characters make the house a delight every year.  But he lives on the other side of town and the rain was so bad, we didn't want to drive that far.

However, as we left the section we were in, the rain almost stopped and we decided to go out to Derrick's anyway.  And, of course, a block from his house the deluge came again, so I never did get out of the car, though we stayed long enough to hear his radio station and for me to snap a couple of pictures.

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It was nearly 10 when we got home, but we have now seen (sort of) the lights of Davis.  Some of the more spectacular ones were turned off, either because of the weather or because of the time of night.  And we were NOT the only ones driving around looking at houses, either!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

How was YOUR Day?

Welcome back from the edge of oblivion.  It was nice to wake up this morning and, you know...wake up this morning.  The world outside looked as grey and wet as it looked when I went to sleep last night.

The car was still dead, though, so I had to cancel my appointment to give blood because I didn't want to walk to Bloodsource in the rain.

At 10 or so, things began to happen

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(dogs protecting us from the evil AAA tow truck)
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Such a sad sight.

The Honda place drove Walt home, and then we sat around all morning waiting for the phone call from the car doctor.  In the meantime, my mother called to say that she woke up this morning with a fever and feeling awful and she thought we should cancel our Christmas celebration tomorrow.  We will probably have a Christmas celebration with her early next month when Jeri is here. (And another with Ned and Marta after that, since they can't get to my mother's mid-week...this may be the never-ending Christmas!)

The Honda place finally called and said that the starter had gone out and they would have to order a new one, but they felt that they could have the car repaired by late tomorrow morning.  All things considered, my mother's sickness may be a blessing in disguise.