Monday, September 30, 2013

My Marathon

For those who have never watched Breaking Bad, it's the story of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who learns he has inoperable lung cancer.  He has a wife, a teen age son with cerebral palsy, an unplanned baby on the way and is already in debt.  He learns that aggressive treatment of his cancer will cost a fortune, which his wife wants to pay to prolong his life.  He wants to leave his family financially stable when he dies.

On a ride-along with his brother-in-law, who works for the DEA, Walter sees a former student fleeing a raid on a local meth lab.  Walter contacts him and the two collaborate on cooking methamphetamine, which, because of Walter's chemist background and his insistence on cleanliness in his lab, becomes desirable because it is significantly more pure than anything else on the black market.

[disclaimer:  before this series, I had no idea that methamphetamine had to be "cooked," that there were levels of purity, and that the more pure the drug, the better the high.  Whoda thunk I would have cared about these things!]

Over the five seasons, we see Walter becoming the drug king "Heisenberg" who, gradually begins to enjoy his empire-building role which includes many immoral things that the original Walter would never have envisioned.   He eventually drives his family away.  More would be a spoiler and I don't want to do that.  This is about my watching yesterday.

My day started at 3 a.m, when I found myself wide awake.   Reading all the hoopla building up to the Breaking Bad finale, and strong encouragement by Ned over the years to watch this program, and signing up for Netflix's streaming video service, I had started watching Breaking Bad on my iPad a week ago.  I had made it all the way through Season One and was into Season Two when I discovered that AMC was doing a Breaking Bad marathon, running all five seasons, in order, ending with the finale at 9 p.m.  Watching it on TV rather than on my iPad was appealing because that meant I could watch either in the family room, or in my office, as I worked at my computer.

At the time I discovered the marathon, it was already into Season Three.  I knew I couldn't watch all of Season Two and catch up with AMC, so I decided to skip watching Season Two and just plunge into Season Three (of five).  I got an overall view of what happened in the second season by reading a synopsis on line so I kinda sorta know how they got where they were when I started watching AMC. (Ned is appalled that I skiped a pivotal season.)

Walt knew that I was going to be immersed in Breaking Bad all day and was very tolerant.  I watched until time to go to brunch at Atria, with Ned and Marta.  (I recorded all the shows from when we left until the finale so I wouldn't miss anything.) 

It was probably a good thing that I was in the middle of this marathon (and Ned was very impressed that I was going to do so much in one day!) because Ned is such a fan that he has watched every episode a dozen times and knows all the minute details that would escape a viewer on the first or even second watching.   

Since my mother has such a hard time participating in a conversation, I think that it was a good thing that she could sit with us and listen to Ned expound on his favorite show without having to contribute anything (other than snorting that she didn't watch the show).  He gave me a detailed explanation of all the things I missed by not watching most of Season Two...which ended up being a good thing because at the end, I had plot holes filled in for me because Ned had explained them to me.

We got home from Atria around 2:30 and I dove right back into Breaking Bad again, while Walt tipped toed around not bothering me. 

At 7 p.m., at the end of whatever episode it was, I turned it off so we could watch the opening episode of The Amazing Race, then I turned Breaking Bad on again.  I did a cop-out dinner, boiling pasta (the last of my Barilla) and pouring pre-made spaghetti sauce over it.  Walt, bless him, did not complain.

There were four more episodes before the season ended and by the time dinner was over, Walt was kind of into the show too, though he asked a lot of questions about or what so and so was.  I had hoped to watch the finale with the rest of America, but I wasn't there yet in watching my pre-recorded shows.  We sat here until 12:30, when the show finally ended.

I was pleased this morning to discover that 80+% of American fans agreed with me that it was a good ending and that it did all that it promised to do, tying up all sorts of loose ends.  Again, not revealing any spoilers.

I'm glad that even though I was five years late to the party, I ended up a fan and could appreciate the tension of the last season.

What I've learned from Breaking Bad, other than what I listed in the "disclaimer" above:  Walter spends more time digging holes in the desert than he does cooking meth.  Choose carefully when buying a container in which to melt a body with acid.  It's impossible to launder $7 million+. None of the drug dealers ever seem to actually spend any money.  The stacks grow taller and taller, but nobody seems to see it as "money," but more just something to collect.  

And finally ... probably not a good idea to buy your child a pink teddy bear.

Good bye, Walter -- our relationship was brief, but memorable!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Stealing

My Random Randomness Meme

How did you choose your baby's or pet's names?
Jeri was named for her godmother, Jeri Desmond, of the Pinata Group and for my typing teacher, Sister Anne
Ned was named for our friend Ed Andrews (Ned's name is Edward Andrew), now Brother Alexander.
Paul Joseph was named because we liked the name Paul and Joseph was for Fr. Joseph Quinn, CSP
Tom was named by Jeri because Walt and I had run out of boys' names we agreed on.   His middle name, Kirk, was for my mother's mother's family, the Kirkpatricks.
David was sort of for Walt's friend Dave Johnson and Norman for his brother, Norm.
As for the Dogs, Sheila is because she's an Aussie Shepherd, Lizzie (Leaping Lizzie) is because she can't stop jumping and Polly was supposed to be for Paulie Perette (of NCIS) but then I discovered I'd spelled it wrong, so she's really named for Sweet Polly Purebred, Underdog's girlfriend.

Have you ever been fishing?

Have you ever had your national flag painted on your face?

What was the last social faux pas you made?
I make so many of them, I don't know the last one.  Mostly the social faux pas I make are ones of which I am unaware!

What makes you nostalgic?
Movies of the 1950s

What's the scariest thing you've ever done?
Flying to Australia alone.  First time I'd traveled without Walt...I remember the panic when I went through the security area...and the first thing I did was to lose my passport!

What fairy tale character would you most associate with?
With as much time as I'm spending taking goodies to my mother's house, I guess Little Red Riding Hood.

How much do you tend to swear in public?
Hopefully not much, though in private it's an entirely different thing.

If you ruled your own country, who would you get to write your national anthem?
Steve Schalchlin, of course.

Who is the most intelligent person you know?
Probably Stephen Peithman, of the Davis Comic Opera Co.  I love talking to him about anything

What's the craziest thing you've ever done for someone?
Threw a pumpkin pie in Char's face (of course it was for her...she asked me to!)

What's the worst piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you.  That is SO not true!!!!

If you had to describe yourself as a flavor, what would it be?
Plain vanilla

If you had to describe yourself as a car, what would it be?
A Studebaker, which we used to call a "coming or going car."  Often I don't know whether I'm coming or going.

If you had to describe yourself as an animal, what would it be?
An elephant.  Very big, family oriented, loyal, and intelligent (I also like peanuts)

Do you think laughing at someone else's misfortune is wrong?
"Wrong" maybe not, but definitely impolite.  Well, maybe I could make an exception for Anthony Weiner and other politicians who get caught sending pictures of body parts to young women...

If a loved one was to serenade you, what song would you most like them to sing?
"For You"

Would you ever let your parents pick out a partner for you?
Let's father is dead and my mother has dementia and I've been married nearly 50 years

Have you ever tried spam? (the meat product)
Heck yes.  It's the national dish of Hawaii.  I have always liked Spam (so does Walt)  We actually buy it to eat!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I Done Good

I had good intentions.  My plan had been to visit my mother yesterday.  I didn't go to see her on Thursday because I knew she was having a hair cut and a permanent, so decided I'd put off picking up her dirty laundry for a day.

Only yesterday I discovered that AMC was having a Breaking Bad marathon and figured that if I watched it on television instead of through streaming Netflix, I could watch either in the family room or in my office.  It meant skipping most of Season 2 and reading the plot synopsis, but this way I would have a fighting chance of having finished the series in time for the season finale and thus when everyone starts discussing the dramatic conclusion, it wouldn't be a spoiler for me.

We TV Addicts must plan our viewing patterns very carefully.

So anyway, when mid-afternoon (when I had planned to drive to Atria) came, I was heavily into cooking methamphetamine and fighting the Mexican drug cartel and I couldn't possibly leave.  (Why do I like this show???)

I think I went to sleep somewhere around 10 p.m. and went right to sleep, but that was too early and so my body decided it was just a nap and I was awake at midnight.  I settled in to watch more Breaking Bad (which I had recorded in anticipation of sleep coming early) and watched about 5 minutes of it before I was sound asleep again.   I woke at 2, went back to the couch and slept until 4.

But by 4, I was pretty much slept out so I went back to the Breaking Bad marathon and watched nonstop until about 10 a.m., by which I time I was drugged out had only 2 episodes left in Season 4 and AMC wouldn't be showingSeason 5 until Sunday, at which time they would show all episodes until 9 p.m., when they would air the finale.  Not sure how I am going to factor brunch with my mother, Ned and Marta in there...

ANYWAY, I finally took a break and went to Atria around 10:30 a.m.   I didn't want to be there too close to lunch because she always wants to treat me, but lunch a Atria every day can get spendy for her (she doesn't realize that!)

We had a nice visit and she laughed about my Breaking Bad marathon and how addicted I'd become to the show in literally just a couple of days.   She told me, again, that "they don't have the shows I watch up here."   This is only partly her dementia.  For literally DECADES I've been trying to get it through her head that she watched NBC on Channel 4, but that Channel 3 was the NBC network up here.  She figures now that because her shows used to be on 3, 5, and 7 and that she has no 3, 5 or 7 up here, that she can't watch her shows, but must watch different shows.  It doesn't help that there is no directory screen on her ComCast set up (this is basic, basic, basic cable, which is provided free by Atria, but anything additional will cost).  She also does not get the Davis paper.  I tried bringing it to her,but since she doesn't know anybody in Davis she is not interested in reading anything about the town, so I stopped doing that.  

For TV, I think she just turns it on, flips through channels (many of which are in Spanish) and if she doesn't recognize anything, she turns it off.  

After I got home, I kept thinking about her TV problem and I know she used to watch several favorite programs, so I decided to make her a TV guide.  I drew up a table and arranged it so that I included only the channels she would be interested in.  Also, since she doesn't turn on the TV until 6 p.m., and goes to bed by 11, I only included the 6 to 10 time slots.

Then I just sat here at my laptop (because I can't get a week's schedule on the cable box in my office) and just filled in all the shows for her.  It looked lik this:

TVSched.jpg (68662 bytes)

It took the better part of a couple of hours, but when I finished, I had the whole week mapped out for her and even designed a cover. 

TVGuide.jpg (47879 bytes)

I stapled it all together and drove back to Atria to give it to her, so she could see which shows were going to be on tonight, in case she wanted to watch TV.

Whenever I give her something, she's always appreciative, but she was positively giddy about this listing.  She thanked me over and over again and looked through it, delighted to find the names of favorite shows there.  "You know, I thought they didn't get the same shows here that I had..."  I was very happy that I had taken the time to put this together for her.  It can pretty much serve as an indefinite TV Guide, though I will check and see if anything major changes from week to week and then run off new pages, as necessary.

I felt really good about myself, so good that I came home and took a 2+ hour nap.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Burned Books

I'd be willling to bet that almost everyone reading this has either read the book, watched the movie, or at least knows that the temperature to burn books is 451 degrees Fahrenheit.

Didn't we all read the book when it was published in 1953? Along with "Brave New World" and other popular science fictions works of the day.

I remember being shocked that people could even think of burning books.  And yet that was the rule, destroy the books and destroy the culture.   Yet "Fahrenheit 451" proved that a people's love of the material in books could not be killed.  A cult formed where people memorized their favorite book and then could tell it to others, and could teach it to a young person who would carry on that tradition into the future.  There might not be paper books, but there were living books.

I thought about that, on this "banned book week," when I was reading "Babi Yar" at Logos the other day.  I started the book when we were on our trip and it is a fascinating account by A. Anatoli (Kuznetsov), who was a kid in 1941 and who witnessed, and lived through, the atrocities  of that period in Kiev.

The book was first published in 1966 in a highly redacted version, with huge swaths of material removed by the Soviets.  Following Kuznetsov's defection to Britain, the complete version was published in 1970.  In the complete version, the Soviet cuts have been restored and are printed in bold, so you can see what they wanted removed.

We are familiar with the worst excesses of German atrocities, seen in the concentration camps, and recounted in the Holocaust museums.  Kuznetsov tells of other atrocities that we may not have heard of.  Sixty eight thousand men were killed in the camp Darnitsa.  In writing his book, Kuznetsov searched to find out what happened to those who ran that camp and discovered there were no Nuremberg trials for them.  They apparently just got away with it.

Not only Jews were killed at BabiYar, but it became an all-purpose killing field, for anybody the Germans felt needed to be killed.  The patients in a large mental hospital nearby were all killed, and by that time the citizens of Kiev didn't even notice.  They were so used to the sound of gunfire along the edges of BabiYar.
They also got rid of all the books.  Libraries, schools, and even homes were looted and books were tossed out into the rain, or burned.  It got me wondering about book burnings and how common they were.

bookburning.jpg (22106 bytes)It turns out that book burning has a long history, starting in the 7th century BC.   Whenever someone came to power, it appears that one of the important things to do is to get rid of any printed material that is against the teachings of whoever is the current ruling faction.

Wikipedia has a list of "notable book burnings" through history, some 140 from Zoroastrian scriptures, burned by Alexander the Great through non-Catholic books, burned by Torquemada in the 1400s, to Martin Luther burning theological books by Angelo Carletti, all the way up to Harry Potter book burnings in New Mexico and South Carolina, and Qu'ran burnings in Florida in 2010.
Whole libraries have been destroyed. In 2011 protesters in Egypt burned a library in Cairo, destroying thousands of rare books, journals and writings worth tens of millions of dollars, and many items considered priceless.

In 206 BC, Xiang Yu, rebelling against emperor Qin Er Shi, led his troops into Xianyang. He ordered the destruction of the Epang Palace by fire. (Qin Shi Huang had ordered the burning of books and burying of scholars earlier.)

And then there is the famous burning of the Library of Alexandria in about 48 BC, which became a symbol of "knowledge and culture destroyed."

Books are dangerous things.  The next time you're reading "Hop on Pop" to a grandchild, beware of the implications...the child may actually start jumping up and down on Daddy.

In his recent ridiculously useless filibuster against the implementation of Obamacare, Senator Cruz read from Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham."  I wonder if he listened to the story.  It's the story of a cat who states categorically that he does NOT like green eggs and ham, though he has never tried it.  They keep telling him that if he would just give it a try, he might like it.   But throughout the book he rants and raves about how he will not try it, he knows he's going to hate it.  But in the end, when he actually tries green eggs and ham, he discovers that he absolutely loves it.

Perhaps a bad book choice for Cruz.  Maybe he should have burned the book instead.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

PC Pasta and other Causes

Some people don't know when to shut up.

Yesterday, Guido Barilla, company president of Barilla pasta issued a statement on an Italian radio station:
"I would never do [a commercial] with a homosexual couple, not for lack of respect but because we don't agree with them," said Guido Barilla, according to a Reuters translation. "Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role. … If [gays] don't like it, they can go eat another brand."
As if that weren't a strong enough statement, he then added:
"I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose," according to a translation from the U.K. Independent "Everyone has a the right to do what they want without disturbing those around them."
In other words, "I respect gays; I just don't want them to have the same rights as I do." 

Well....needless to say these comments sparked an instant response world-wide and a call for a boycott of Barilla products.  The hashtag #boycottbarilla was "trending" on Twitter by the afternoon.  Even members of the Italian Parliament got into the fight. "Here we have another example of homophobia, Italian style," said Alessandro Zan, a member of the left-wing Sinistra Ecologia Libertá party. "I'm boycotting Barilla and I invite other MPs … to do the same. I've already changed pasta brands. Barilla is terrible quality."

My friend James C. Glica-Hernandez posted something on Facebook, which was the first I'd heard of the tempest in a pasta pot.  It sparked a long list of comments about boycotting Barilla and tossing out any Barilla products people currently had on their shelves.

I supported the boycott and even wrote a note to Barilla saying I would stop buying their products.  I stopped short of tossing out my already-purchased Barillal pasta, since the company already had my money and nobody would know whether I used it or threw it away--and I hated to throw away good food (I was happy, however, to discover that I didn't have as much Barilla product as I thought--just one package of angel hair pasta).

This morning, apparently having been made aware of the negative publicity his company was getting, Guido Barilla issued another statement:
"I apologize if my words generated misunderstandings or if they offended the sensibilities of some people," saying that he "respected everyone" but "Barilla is for traditional families, can even accept gay marriage but are against any adoptions by gays".
So to make things better he adds that gays should not adopt...but, presumably, it's OK if they eat his pasta.
Needless to say, I will not be buying Barilla products ever again.   He is entitled to his own views, and he is entitled to say so on the radio -- and I have the right not to buy a product that is made by someone who is so vocal in his hatred of gay people. 

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But while writing this I came across another unrelated thing that makes my blood boil.  NBC is going to air an episode of the NRA-sponsored show Under Wild Skies, in which brave hunter Tony Makris (also an NRA lobbyist) hires a guide in Botswana to kill an elephant - for its ivory.

Makris proceeds to shoot the animal in the face numerous times, then chuckle while it issues its dying groans. He expresses pride in bringing the coveted ivory back to camp.
Let me repeat that:
...shoot the animal in the face numerous times, then chuckle while it issues its dying groans
I cannot tell you how that makes my stomach turn. Did this elephant have a baby nearby who is going to be traumatized for life hearing its mothers dying groans? 

If you, like me, care about these animals and are sickened by the exploitation of the animals for sport...and for the entertainment of the home viewer, I hope you will sign the petition to ask NBC Sports not to air the program.

You can find the petition here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Reading Meme

In honor of Banned Book week, I decided it was time to do this reading meme, which I've had on file for a long time.

Do you remember how you developed a love for reading?
I know my mother always read to us.  We had a set of books called "The Red Books" which I intended to pass along to my children, but which have been stored somewhere in this house and can't be found.  But the first book that I remember starting me on a love of reading was "The Black Stallion," which my friend Steve loaned me.  I ate through all those Walter Farley stories ("The Island Stallion" was always my favorite) and discovered dog books at the library.  I never looked back 

What are some books you read as a child?
The ones that stand out the most strongly are "The Black Stallion" and all those books, "Midnight Moon" and the Dorothy Lyons books, "Lad a Dog" and everything by Albert Peyson Terhune, "Little Women" and the Nancy Drew books.  I haunted Macy*s book section for new Nancy Drew books whenever I was in the store.

What is your favorite genre?
Now crime drama, but I also enjoy biographies and really anything that is well written.

Do you have a favorite novel?
"East of Eden" and "Prince of Tides"

Where do you usually read?
I read in my recliner while watching TV, I read in the car while Walt is driving.   I always have something to read in my purse whenever I'm in line somewhere or at intermission of a show.

When do you usually read?
Whenever I have a free few minutes.

Do you usually have more than one book you are reading at a time?
Always.  With my kindle, I can carry a library of books with me so that I always have something of the genre I'm interested in reading at the time.

Do you read non-fiction in a different way or place than you read fiction?

Do you buy most of the books you read, or borrow them, or check them out of the library?
For such a book lover, I"m embarrassed to say I haven't been in a library to look at books for years.  I buy used books from Logos and Kindle books.  I rarely buy new books.

Do you keep most of the books you buy? If not, what do you do with them?
Now, I take them to Logos.

What are you reading now?
"Catherine the Great," "My Love Affair with England," "Bombay Anna" (the "real" story of Anna and the King of Siam),"Babi Yar," and "Many Lives, Many Masters" (a book on reincarnation)

Do you keep a "To Be Read" list?
No.  My Kindle is so full I just read whatever is calling to me when I finish the book I'm reading (or when I want a change of pace) 

What’s next to be read?
Right now, just finishing one (or more) of the ones I'm reading is about all I can handle without thinking of what's next. 

What books would you like to reread?
I have too many books I want to read to take the time to re-read, but I am re-listening to the Diana Gabaldon "Outlander" series in the car while waiting for the publication of the next book in the series next year.

Who are your favorite authors?
* John Steinbeck
* Pat Conroy
* Diana Gabaldon
* Tess Gerritsen
* Michael Connelly
* Albert Peyson Terhune

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


When I was growing up, my parents subscribed to the Catholic newspaper, which told of all the local news pertinent to San Francisco Catholics and also contained the Legion of Decency list, which told us which movies were OK for us to see.

I can't remember the first time I saw a movie on the "X" list (the bad movies), but I felt as guilty as I did the first time I attended an ecumenical service in a Protestant church.  Taking communion felt like I would be going to hell, but not following the example of my Newman Club peers was more important than sending my soul to hell for being inside a non-Catholic church.

My mother "religiously" checked the list every week, when we were choosing which Saturday matinee to see.  In the 1950s, movies which were condemned by the Legion of Decency included The Moon is Blue, I am a Camera, Baby Doll, Love in the Afternoon, Some Like it Hot, Never on Sunday, and Psycho.
(When I checked this list I discovered that Love in the Afternoon was taken off the list when a voice over by Maurice Chevalier was added to explain that Ariane and Frank were now married and living in New York.  The original version did not include the explanation and left it up to the viewer whether the two were married or living in sin.)

Given what a voracious reader I was then, it's probably a good thing that there was no Legion of Decency published for books.  I'm sure the list was available, but it just was not published in our Catholic newspaper, so my parents never checked it.

This is "Read a Banned Book" Week (Sept. 22-28), an annual event celebrating the freedom to read.  It focuses on efforts across the country to remove certain books from libraries and schools because some people find them offensive.

Who are these people and don't they have anything better to do?  A list of America's most surprising banned books include such books as "The Diary of Anne Frank," for sexually explicit passages, and in 1983 the Alabama State Textbook Committee banned it because it was "a real downer."

A specific illustrated book of "Little Red Riding Hood" was banned because the young girl is shown carrying wine in her basket of goodies for Grandma and rather than seeing the message that children should not talk to strangers, school officials in Culver City, CA saw the book's message as "alcohol is yummy."   The LA Times reported that "After reviewing the award-winning book from the state-recommended reading list for first-graders, Culver City Unified School District officials concluded that its message conflicted with the anti-drug and -alcohol theme they promote in the classroom."

"Hansel and Gretel" was banned because it "gives witches a bad name."

In 1952, "Charlotte's Web" was banned in Kansas because it was felt that humans are the highest level of God's creation and so any book featuring talking animals must be the work of the devil.  They felt it was sacreligious and disrespectful of God.

And who would ever think that "Where's Waldo" would appear on a banned book list, but it does.  It was banned in Michigan and New York because there was "a sunbathing woman suffering a wardrobe malfunction the size of a pinhead in a corner of one of Martin Hanford's drawings."

Who is so dedicated to smut eradication that they would examine every page of a Waldo book to find something objectionable, and ban a book based on such a teeny tiny drawing.

The top banned children's book in the last decade is a book called "The What's Happening to My Body? Book for Boys," deemed inappropriate and banned in 21 school libraries in Texas, following a 2010 complaint by the father of an 8 year old who was shocked that his son could see this book. (I wonder if this Dad has taught his young son how to shoot a gun...?)

Even the dictionary is not free from complaint. School administrators in Alaska have banned both the American Heritage Dictionary and the Merriam Webster dictionary in schools and libraries for its "objectionable" entries — particularly slang words, including "bed," "knocker," and "balls."

I checked the list of books that are frequently challenged or banned.   They include books like "The Great Gatsby," "Catcher in the Rye," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Grapes of Wrath," "Beloved," "Of Mice and Men," "Farewell to Arms," "Gone with the Wind," "Call of the Wild," "Lord of the Rings," "Sophie's Choice," "Brave New World," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "The Sun Also Rises," and a host of others.  (You can read the reasons why these books were banned here.)

I feel positively wicked...I think I have read every single one of those books.

Do yourself a favor and flout a banned book this week.

Monday, September 23, 2013


There may be no characters wandering around in funny costumes, and nobody singing "It's a Small World" (unless it's at the Tuesday sing-along), but I feel like I've accepted my regular visits to Fantasyland and I'm sure that ultimately I will be much happier for it.

Now that I have given up trying to encourage my mother to do anything at Atria, she is much happier because we don't argue any more, and, while not exactly happy, I am at least glad that I don't have to work so hard any more.

When I arrived today, she greeted me as if she hadn't seen me in weeks. I complimented her on her new manicure and the fresh flowers on her table and asked if she had had a nice visit with my cousin Denise yesterday.  She insisted that Denise hasn't visited her for weeks, the manicure is old and she needs a new one, and the flowers are the one I sent to her on her birthday three weeks ago.  She also said that Ned had been there yesterday for lunch.

But I know for a fact that Denise and her sister were there, that Denise brought the flowers and gave her a manicure, and that Ned is coming next weekend.  But it's pointless to try to get her to remember because it only frustrates her, so I play her fantasy game.  Denise hasn't been there, nobody has visited her, she hasn't had a phone call from anyone, and Ned came to have lunch with her yesterday.

We had a ten minute visit, but managed to stretch it out over an hour and a half.  She asks what I've been doing exciting, I tell her about the three shows I saw over the weekend, she asks what I have coming up this week and I tell her "nothing," then she tells me that she hasn't done anything exciting herself, that she just sits there, that nobody comes to visit her, and then she asks me what I've been doing exciting and what I have coming up this week.  When I finally tire of having the same conversation over and over again, I tell her I have to run errands and that I'll see her in two days.

She does remember that she has 3 friends coming to take her out to lunch tomorrow and it will be interesting to see if, when I go to see her on Wednesday, she remembers that they were there.

Acceptance is a good thing.  If you can't change a situation (and obviously I can't change this one), might as well just accept what is and go with the flow.  I've never been good at that, but maybe I can learn. As my mother has told me all my life, "this too shall pass" and I'm not in a big hurry for this situation to pass.


If you are a Dexter fan and have not yet seen the final show, do not read what follows.

I actually have my DVR set to record Dexter on Tuesday, but this morning on That's My Answer, the question was what people thought of the finale (which aired originally during the Emmys) and I decided I'd better watch it quick before people started talking about it on Facebook.  I wanted to see it before I saw discussions about it. I found in OnDemand and watched it.

I started a discussion on Facebook asking people not to give away anything about the show, but to say whether they liked it or not.  Overwhelmingly, it seemed that people hated it.  Someone posted this link, which is an excellent discussion with producer Sara Colleton and Jennifer Carpenter (who played Dexter's sister, Deb) of how the story ended and the series in general.

I always thought the series would end with Dexter's death, since obviously someone who has murdered so many people can't really be left alive.  I also started to think that Deb probably should die too.  She's a good person but she did kill an innocent woman and though she seemed to have come to terms with why she did it, it would probably eat her alive and ruin her chance for a happy future.  And, of course, wrongdoers must be punished, as we have learned in all moralistic movies for decades.

But in losing the essence of Debra, when she had a stroke and would never have usable brain function again, Dexter was forced to make her his last kill, and then, like all those others he buried in the ocean, take her out in his boat and lovingly dump her over the side.  Interesting that all those bodies he drowned for so many years were always wrapped in black, but Deb was wrapped in white, which kind of floated gracefully around her, as she quietly sunk to the bottom of the ocean.  

By faking his own death and somehow getting to shore and moving to the Pacific Northwest, he has separated himself from everything he loves.  Deb is dead, Harrison is now going to grow up in Argentina with Hannah.  Over the seasons, Dexter, who starts the series saying that he does not know how to feel, has learned how to feel and now must bury all of his feelings and not feel anything again.  That is his punishment.

Steve's friend Jason Hungerford offered this as the way he would like to have seen the season end:  Either Dexter should have gone to Argentina and "lived happily ever after" so to speak or he should have killed himself. I hated the last 10 minutes or so. Basically from the point where he got Deb out of the hospital. I thought the dumping her in the ocean was crude - he treated her like one of his kills (I know he blamed himself for her condition) but I found it lacked the love and respect he had for her. But at the moment he dumps her overboard I would have liked him to go over too. Perhaps injecting himself with a tranquilizer to ensure he didn't fight to survive. But if he were going to fake his death I would have liked him to be with his son. To do anything else I thought was selfish and cowardly - despite the character's voice over protesting that he was doing what he was doing out of love for his son and girlfriend. His character had evolved sufficiently enough I believe that the audience could have accepted him being a family man and getting a fresh new start.

Interesting point, but I dunno.  I'm pretty much happy with how they ended it, though I may be in the minority.  Glad Ned convinced me to watch this series.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Blogging the Emmys

We had a matinee in Sacramento to attend today.  Good show, which is going to take some thought before I can write the review.  I did, however, get both the Les Miserables and Spamalot reviews written in timely manner.  Yay me!

We got home literally 2 minutes before the Emmy broadcast began, so I dived under the padded quilt I keep on my lap to keep Polly from digging her claws into my leg and grabbed the iPad and just started blogging.  In doing so, I found out why the Emmys is a 3 hours broadcast.  For the time periods I was recording it, the show was running 6-8 minutes of actual show time vs. 4-5 minutes of commercials!   I suspect in the last half of the show there was greater show time, but boy, not for about 6 different commercial breaks in the first half!

I thought it was an OK Emmy show.  Nothing that I will think of as I try to get to sleep and think "Wow...that was really terrific."  But it wasn't a bad Emmy.  Just one of the run of the mill years.

I took lots of notes and e-mailed them to myself at each commercial break, so here goes the distillation:
Neil Patrick Harris does such spectacular opening numbers for the Tonys that I was disappointed that there was no splashy dance sequence or a parody of anything, nothing but past Emmy hosts bemoaning the job and offering hints on how to do it better.  I wasn't really getting what he was aiming for until the very end when the camera cuts to Kevin Spacey in the audience turning around and making comments to the camera about how he had orchestrated the action on stage.  Ahhh.  House of Cards.  I get it now.   Fortunately I had watched two episodes of that series before the Emmys or I would still be in the dark.  It was very clever after all.

First award is to supporting actress in a comedy series.  I was pleased that Merritt Wever had been nominated.  She is on Nurse Jackie, which I have never considered a comedy, but her dry wit was the only thing that kept me with the show for 2 seasons (before I finally gave up).  I was even more surprised when she won.  Truth to tell, I had been hoping for a win for Miam Bialik, who is so very funny on Big Bang Theory, but this was not her night.  Wever may have given the shortest speech in Emmy history.  "Thank you.  I gotta go...bye!"

Tina Fey, of course, won for best writing in a comedy series.   What will the Academy do next year when she's not around?

Robin Williams came out to give a tribute to his idol, Jonathan Winters, who died earlier this year.  Willliams looked old, he was wearing a weird shiny tuxedo, and he appeared to be reading his speech off the monitors, which led me to believe that since Williams is such a crazy improvisational guy I can only guess that the Academy made him write it out and read from the telepromptor.

What is it with the shiny tuxedo?  Jon Hamm and Alex Baldwin are next to sport them, Hamm a grey one and Baldwin a white one. They don't look classy; they look cheap.  (Blogger Alexandra Billings said they looked like the top of a fabulous gay wedding cake.)  I saw a headline about "Jon Hamm's Emmy Beard" and thought it meant that he was gay and bringing a girl with him to throw people off.  But no, it was talking about facial hair.

The Deschanel Sisters (Zooey and Emily) were the next presenters and this shows how up to date on new actors and actresses I am.  I recognized the names but thought they were real housewives of somewhere. They presented the award for Actress in a supporting role, which went to Melissa Leo of Louis, another comedy I don't watch.  Leo did, however, send a greeting to Elaine Stritch and hoped she was feeling better.  Of course I wanted to know what happened to Elaine Stritch.  Google says she was scheduled to be there but has been battling "several health issues" this month, including eye surgery, a broken hip and other fun things.

Gail Mancuso won for comedy directing, and pointed out she was only the second woman to win that award (for Modern Family) and in her acceptance speech thanked a special teacher and her family "for letting us watch all the Hitchcock we wanted," which I thought was very cool.

Jim Parsons won for actor in a comedy series (Big Bang Theory), which pleased me very much, though I would love to see some of his co-stars nominated (other than Bialik) because I feel they all do such an exceptional job on that show.

Then Rob Reiner gave a tribute to Jean Stapleton, his mother-in-law for all those years on All in the Family.  I hate to say it, but his tribute was much more heartfelt and believable than Robin Williams'.
Michael Douglas and Matt Damon came on to introduce Elton John, the current toast of Las Vegas (of course it was designed to make you think they were talking about Liberace, the focus of the biopic the two of them were in).  John, dressed in a blue sequined jacket looked almost tame around all those shiny tuxedos.

About this time I was starting to say this was a pretty tame Emmy broadcast.  Then Laura Linney won for The Big C, which I loved.  She was not there, unfortunately, to accept the award.

After another interminable commercial break, there was a funny faux advertisement for "EHD" (Excessive Hosting Disease), featuring the cast of How I Met Your Mother and suggesting that Neil Patrick Harris enroll in the Ryan Seacrest Center for Excessive Hosting.

Maybe you hadda been there.

Though there were three nominations for Modern Family, the award went to Tony Hale of Veep, a show I watched when it first started and decided I wasn't interested.  Apparently it has improved a lot since then.

britton.jpg (42944 bytes)Connie Britton, looking stunning (someone said that her dress was inspired by the Ottoman Empire), came on present the award for drama writer and I was pleased that it went to one of the writers on Homeland.   It was a bittersweet victory, though, since he died earlier this year and it was accepted by his wife, fighting tears.

The supporting actress award went to Anna Gunn from Breaking Bad.   I have now finished season 1 and have 6 to go, but at least I knew who she was is and why she was winning this award.

A new wrinkle in this year's awards is that when the cameras pan the audience you can generally find someone with a camera taking pictures of the stage.  Definiteily something not seen before!

Jane Lynch's tribute to Glee's Corey Monteith, who died a few weeks ago of a drug overdose, was the best of the tributes thus far.

After the next 8 minute commercial break, there was finally a production number with Neil Patrick Harris, which was fun but a little too little to late.

Mindy Kaling of The Mindy Project was up next with someone whose name I didn't catch.  I couldn't tell if their teleprompter really didn't work, or if they were faking it.  In any event it made me realize what good actors all these folks are because they sure have a difficult tie "winging it."  (Poor Shemar Moore of Criminal Minds was back stage with a microphone and didn't seem to have a clue what to say to Bob Newhart.) Of course the whole thing may just have been a set up to introduce the Reality Series award, which this year went to The Voice, knocking out Amazing Race, which wins every year.  I have never watched The Voice.

Diahann Carroll hobbled onto the stage (she's nearly 80, she's allowed!) with the beautiful Kerry Washington (of Scandal).  There didn't seem to be much point to Carroll's being there other than to point to her as the first person of color to ever win an Emmy and how far we have come.  Carroll was there to say how beautiful Washington was and how she can't wait to see her win her much-deserved Emmy later in the evening. (She didn't)

The supporting drama actor went to Bobby Carnavale for Boardwalk Empire, another show I have never watched.  I don't know who Carnavale plays, but he gave such a perfect aceptance speech for an Italian father.

Julianna Margulies was there with someone to present for best actor in a drama series.  I wanted to help her brush the hair out of her eyes.  Can't believe that style was deliberate.  However, I was thrilled when the award went to Jeff Daniels of Newsroom.  That show doesn't seem to get much discussion and I think it's a great show.

Don Cheadle gave a very short history of TV, which seemed to span the years from the Kennedy assassination to the Beatles' appearance on Ed Sullivan, a good introduction to Carrie Underwood singing Yesterday, which, with unchangeable pronouns, should not be sung by a woman, unless she's a lesbian mourning her lover's departure.

The accountants for the show were announced.  They stood there with Bob Newhart, recent winner for guest appearance on Big Bang Theory, an award not part of the big Emmy presentation. After all these years on television, this was Newhart's very first Emmy.

Claire Daines won for actress in a drama, which I figured was the appropriate reward for all the weeks she spent being chased around a big building by the bad guy in the last weeks of her pregnancy (when I heard she had been pregnant for all that filming, I could not believe it--they hid her pregnancy so well!)

But the award for drama director went to the director of House of Cards.  I was happy I had watched the pilot on the plane from Frankfurt because I could appreciate the appropriateness of this award.

Emmy award winner Jim Parsons entered with Newhart (who received a moving standing ovation). They were there to present the winner of writing for a variety show.  Each show had a brief clip introducing the writers.  I loved that The Daily Show writers were representated by Muppets.  The Daily Show has won this award for many years, but it went to The Colbert Report  this time (Colbert thanked Stewart).   In fact, The Daily Show won nothing this time around.  I loved that as the Colbert writers took to the stage, one of them had a camera and was taking pictures of the audience.

Award for directing a variety show went to the guy who directs Saturday Night Live, his fourth consecutive win.  I loved his speech, where he talked about his daughter in the audience.  She was tickled.

Michael J. Fox did a tribute to Gary David Goldburg, who gave him his start on Family Ties.

Neil Patrick Harris introduced the nominated choreographers, with whom he met a week ago to announce that they would be collaborating to choreograph a big production number for the show.  The number was a lot of fun and at its conclusion, it was announced that the winner of the award for choreography went to Dancing with the Stars' Derrick Hough, who is such a terrific choreographer week after week.

The final live tribute went to Edie Falco, who remembered her co-star James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) and talked about him as a man, as an actor, and as her friend.   She became emotional and the ever-ready camera was there for the quick zoom in, hoping to catch an errant tear.

Alison Janney and her co-presenter came on to give the award for writing in a mini series, but all I could concentrate on was the clashing bright yellow and bright fuschia dresses.  The award went to The Hour, a show about which I know nothing.

James Cromwell (whom I first saw in Babe, the story of that barnyard pig and whom I now seem to see everywhere) won for best actor in a mini series, American Horror Story, which, after this show, I think I'm going to have to check out, since it seems to have crazed nuns in it and I like me a nun story.

The rest of the people who died this past year were memorialized to a nice cello piece.  I felt it was sacreligious to be eating chow mein while it was going on, but it was long enough for me to take my fingers off the iPad keyboard and eat.

Et tu, Mark Harmon?  Such a handsome man and he, too, is in one of those shiny tuxedos, though his looks like it might actually light up.  I hated it!  He was there with someone else to present for best directing of a mini series, which went to the director of Behind the Candelabra, the story of Liberace.   However, I would really like to know -- if NCIS is the #1 program on television today, as all the polls seem to indicate, why is it NEVER up for any awards for the show or for any of its actors?  Did the powers that be decide to deliberately leave it out of the running for potential awards?

The award for actress in a mini series went to Ellen Burstyn for Political Animals, who thanked "the writer who had the wisdom to write a woman over 65 who still has a lot of juice."  Loved it.

Brian Cranston (Breaking Bad) presented with Claire Danes (Homeland) and congratulated her on her win and said that he was waiting for his own category. Had he been using some of his own product?  Bobby Carnavale already won that award. They presented the award for best directing in a mini series, which went to the director of Behind the Candelabra, who didn't thank anybody but Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.

The lead actor in a mini series went to Douglas, who offered to give half of it to Damon.  His comment, "This was a two hand-er. And you’re only as good as your other hand. Thank you, Matt Damon.” was a beautiful double entendre that brought down the house.

Best mini series also went to Behind the Candelabra.  I had never heard of it when I stumbled across it on OnDemand one night.  I thought it a great show and was happy to see the groundswell developing for it.

With the end of the show in sight, Will Farrell came on stage wearing beach wear (aloha shirt, shorts, flip flops) and with his kids along.  Said he had been contacted at the last minute to be a presenter when Helen Mirren backed out and couldn't find a sitter.  Loved his irreverence.  He presented the award for best comedy series (Modern Family) and best drama (Breaking Bad). I'm glad that I started watching the latter yesterday and have already made it through Season One.

Like I said, it wasn't a great Emmy show, but it was an OK Emmy show.   It was so low key that I fell asleep writing this journal entry, took a 2-1/2 hour nap and got up at midnight to finish it.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sunday Stealing

First of all, is autumn your favorite season? Why or why not?
I think so.  I love the blossoms of spring (tra-la), but what follows spring is summer, my least favorite season, where autumn is followed by winter, which I love.

Is it ‘autumn’ or ‘fall’, to you?

Mostly "fall," I think, though I go both ways.

What kind of weather does your area get during this season?

Some sun, some rain, some wind.

Were you born in an autumn month?

Nope.  In a winter month.

Do you pay attention to any ‘fall fashions’?

I don't pay attention to any fashion of any season!

Which leaf color is your favorite?

Hard to say.  Probably the bright reds, but really it's the mix that does it for me.

Is it still fun to rake the leaves and jump in piles of them?

I grew up on concrete without trees.  We now rake leaves, but I'd look pretty silly if I jumped in a pile of them (to say nothing of probably breaking something)

When can you really tell that it’s autumn?

When the leaves begin to fall, though today it is our first day of rain and that's a pretty good sign.

Do you enjoy carving pumpkins?

I did, when we had kids at home.  Now, not so much.

Do you eat the pumpkin seeds? If so, do you put any kind of flavoring on it?

I think at one time I did, but not in decades.

Are you planning to go to a pumpkin patch this year?


Which was your favorite Halloween costume to wear?

I haven't worn on in forever, but my favorite costume ever was our granddaughter Lacie's costume her first year of life when her father was a football player (49er, of course) and Lacie was a football.

Are you planning to go trick-or-treating? Why or why not?

No.  I'm 70 years old!!!

Are there any county fairs or festivals held nearby during this time?

Probably; none that I am aware of, though.  Though I'm sure there are some up on Apple Hill.

What is your favorite dessert for this time of year?

Pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.

Is your Thanksgiving Day in October or November, if you even celebrate it?

November and yes, we celebrate, though balancing part of the family in No. California and part in So. California is getting difficult.

If you do celebrate it, where do you usually have Thanksgiving dinner?

Well, we have had it at my mother's and I cooked dinner when she couldn't any more.  Now that she has moved into Assisted Living, I don't have a clue what we will do for Thanksgiving!

Do you remember any crafts you used to do that were autumn-themed?

Only making turkeys out of a tracing of your hand.

Which new TV show are you looking forward to this season?

The Blacklist and I'm hoping that the new Robin Williams and the new Michael J. Fox shows are good.

How does autumn typically make you feel?

SO much better than Summer.

What color do you always associate with autumn?

Orange, though that is not one of my favorite colors.

Is there a song that always reminds you of this season?

Not really.

Do you have any seasonal traditions?

No (god, I sound so boring!)

Do you spend a lot of time outside during this time of the year?

I'm not really an out-doorsie kind of person.

How can you tell that fall is over?

Leaves are gone, weather is colder (no snow here)

What is a typical autumn outfit that you wear?

A sweatshirt with my sweats instead of a t-shirt.

Describe a perfect autumn day:

Clear, crisp, temps in the low 70s, all the neighborhood trees turning color.

Do you hate it when stores start promoting Christmas early?

GOD, yes!  I saw my first TV commercial for Christmas today.  It's not even OCTOBER!!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tales of Phishermen

I just reprint this because it tickled me. 
601 4th Street NW
Washington, DC 20535


The email contact i am sending you is the only saviour to this situation and a lot of scam victims has received their fund as a result of this agent that was sent to Nigeria to handle this issue over there. Agent Anderson has a great reputation with the FBI and the United states Cyber Intelligent service for his success over the years in dealing with scammers and bringing them to book. His ethics includes no pity which makes him one of the most dreaded cyber intelligent officer in the FBI, he is reliable and has a good record of bringing this internet scammers to book and sent to jail after facing the court proceedings.

For your information, its in your best interest to comply with my instructions and follow his directives so we can rid the Internet off these criminals who use it as a tool for their crimes,so do not hesitate to contact him at once on receipt of this email because i can assure you he will be a great deal of help in helping you secure your inheritance without any delays.

Find below the contact details of the FBI delegate.

Name:Mr.Anderson Curtis

Do comply to the directions that he will give to you so that your fund can finally get to you without any form of further issue with this impostors and please do me the favor and making available any information you have of this impostors for it will help in tracing them because one scammer taking off the street simply means saving a future scam victim.
I did a cut and paste from my mail washer, so didn't download the actual email, but this one gets an e for... enigma?  Maybe this is an idea of a pilot for a new TV Series:  Anderson Curtis, cyber intelligent officer.  I hope Curtis has a better command of English than his secretary does!

* * *

I had lunch with my mother today.  I took two days off from visiting her, still smarting over our argument about the Brain Gymnasium.  I've had a good talking to, to myself and have come to peace with acknowledging that she is 94 years old and she has earned the right to live her last years any way she  wants.  If she wants to live it sitting in her chair watching reading and watching TV, thinking that her brain was "just fine," that is her right.

And if I'm honest with myself, if I were in her position, I would probably make the same decision and be very angry with my kids if they kept insisting that I go do stuff I don't want to do, whether it's good for me or not.

As long as I can stay in this mindset, I think we will have a much richer relationship than we have had, when I'm trying to get her to find some sort of connection at Atria.

We saw the manager of Atria while we were at lunch today and he thanked me for the box of chocolates I brought back from Ukraine.  He said he has the chocolates behind his desk, which tells me maybe he didn't get the message that this was candy for everyone.  But owell.

[Funny observation:  I asked my mother if she had a hair appointment today.  She unhesitatingly said "Yes, at 1:30."  THAT she can remember!]

* * *

Tonight we went to see a production of Les Miserables.   This is the third time I've seen the show this year, first the movie, then a production at Music Circus in Sacramento and tonight by the Woodland Opera House. Each had its good and bad points.  The movie's bad point was Russell Crowe.  I don't think I had any complaints about the Music Circus production.  Tonight's was very good.  It is usually difficult to get good male voices for community theater productions and they had a whole stage of excellent male voices, especially in the leading roles.

My main complaint about the show, though, was the costumes.   They were beautiful, but I question if they were appropriate.  They dressed the bishop in white (which is a color only the pope wears) and while the men's costumes were gorgeous and well made, they looked more llike upper class merchants of the period rather than poor students.

We agreed that our favorite character was Gavrosh, age 6, who took command of the stage.  And little Cosette had the longest bio in the program.   She is only 6, but has acted extensively in community theater and is about to take off on a Sound of Music concert tour to Austria!

How do you top that at age 7 or 8?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Back to Logos

Well, life really got back to normal today when I returned to Logos.  It's funny when you go a long distance and stay a couple of weeks, it seems like you've been gone forever and that when you come back, things in your life will have changed in your absence.  But in two and a half weeks, things don't change all that much and there was Peter sitting behind the cash register, the same paintings on the wall and all was as I left it.
My day started off with a bang with a young Asian student who bought a $4.86 book and only had $100.  It took almost all of the currency in the cash register to give him change and Susan had the same thought I did when she came at 6, wondering if it was a real $100 bill.  He seemed young and innocent and had difficulty with Englsh. Just exactly the perfect personality to fool an innocent like me.   I hope it was a real bill.  I'd hate to think of cheating Susan and Peter out of that much money.

A personal tragedy came next.  It was a little warm in the office...not bad, but enough that I decided to pull out my fan to cool off.  I love that fan that Walt bought me in China and use it a lot.  I used it frequently on the trip, but apparently in all the packing, I must have crushed something because the piece that holds it all together broke.  I'm either going to have to figure out how to fix it or buy another fan...but I really like THIS fan.

A guy came in with three books on cars from the bargain books outside the store.  In between the time he opened the door and the time he got to the desk to pay, he talked himself out of buying them because he said he really should buy a house before he bought books and that he was in the market for a house right now.  He took them back outside and came back in to tell me the kind of book he was looking forward to.  His description was so technical the only word I recognized was "book."  Whatever it was he was looking for, he didn't find it.

The next customer was really fun.  He wanted to know if I had books on Zambia, travel or history.  I showed him where he should look and he actually found a book on the history of Zambia.  I started asking him about Zambia and it turns out he was in the Peace Corps there, returning about 18 months ago.  He was working on agricultural production, but said it was difficult to talk about irrigation with people who are fairly new at agriculture (up until 50 years ago they were hunter-gatherers), and grow their crops with rain as their water source.  If they have a bad year, they live in the bush for the next year, until it begins to rain again.

After he left there was some slow time and I realized that Lacie's birthday is this weekend.  We can't go because of having to review three shows.   Also, Laurel hadn't updated her Amazon wish list to include new "stuff" for Lacie, so I decided to birthday shop for her at Logos, which has a really nice selection of children's books. I had fun picking out a few of them.

Someone bought the book "Winning the Losers Game."  It was another Asian customer who was very shy and extremely polite.

My regular customer, who always comes in around 4:30, came in and asked me how our vacation had been.  We talked about that for awhile.  He has also been to Istanbul and commiserated with the traffic situation!  His choice of a book this year was a study of the photography of Vivian Maier. I remember getting mail from someone who mentioned Maier and I had looked up information about her at that time, so I knew she was a street photographer, born in France, but living in the US (she learned English by going to the movies), who began taking pictures in 1951 and amassed an incredible body of black and white work, while working as a nanny in Chicago.  She died in 2009, at age 83.  It's worth looking at her web site to see the dramatic photos she took just walking around the streets of New York and Chicago.

A woman who had a plastic bag instead of a purse, bought 3 children's books, including one I had looked at but decided wasn't right for Lacie.  She says she loves giving that book (about bringing a new baby into the home) at baby showers.

Late in the afternoon, a cute little woman crept in, on tip toes, her shoulders hunched up and her finger on her lips.  "Shhh," she said.   "Nobody knows where I am.  This is where I come to treat myself..." She wandered around the shelves for awhile and then bought 3 philosophy books.  The total of her purchases came to $14.58.  She asked if she could give me a $20 bill and let me keep the change because she likes the philosophy of Logos. She told me this was her favorite book store and added, "If everyone would share their good fortune, the world would be a better place, don't you think?"

The last customer of the day, for my shift was a guy looking for books by Amy Tan...specifically "The Kitchen God's Wife."  He found Amy Tan books, but not that one, but bought something else and as I rang it up, looked around and said, "I like your book store."  I told him about Susan and Peter's policy of donating the proceeds to Doctors without Borders and Save the Children and he was even more impressed by it.

Susan was a little late relieving me but came in with a friend, pushing a baby carriage with an adorable little baby in it.  The baby was wearing a t-shirt that said "I'm bilingual--I cry in French and English."

It was good being back at Logos again, shedding the last of those "I haven't quite returned from vacation" feelings.  I also spent the afternoon reading a book called "Babi Yar," which is a first person account of a non-Jew living in Kiev when the Germans invaded.  It's a fascinating, if horrifying account.  I was so engrossed in it that when a customer spoke to me, I jumped because I had forgotten I was in the book store.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Faces to remember

I did this after one of our other cruises, possibly the Russia cruise 4 years ago.  I tried to take pictures of the people who made the most impression on us, and the people we will remember from this cruise (with the help of this photo guide!).   Note to Char:  I did candid pix when people didn't know I was photographing them.  If you have some more flattering pictures of some of these folks (I know you do), e-mail them to me and I will substitute.  Also, if you have any corrections or additions to the descriptions, that would be good too!
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Linda and Bob became our best friends on the trip.  They are from Dallas and "newlyweds," marrying 3 years ago after the death of both of their spouses.  We had a lot of fun with them.  Bob took more photos than I did.
John and Mary were such delightful people.  Some of our favorite on this cruise. Thanks to Char for the good picture!
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Loved this couple, from Britain, though I never got their name.  He was the guy who said "We have parks in England too, but they usually have grass in them."  She looks solemn, but actually had a dry wit.
This lady was the eldest of four sisters from Canada taking this trip.   We had dinner with them one night.  They said they were from a family of 7 children and realized that they aren't getting any younger, and wanted to spend more time together.  They were delightful.
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Another one of the 4 sisters.
Orren and Margo were the first people we met, at the hotel in Kiev.   I didn't get to know her well (or him either, actually), but he was amazing, hunched over his cane and hobbling ahead, not willing to miss a single thing. And I don't think he did.
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Lorraine was a neat lady who has wanted to go to Russia all of her life.   She was traveling with her friend, Barbara, and the two of them had visited some places in Russia before taking this trip.
We spent more time with Jean and David in Istanbul than on the cruise.   Nice people.  David is very soft spoken, but very interesting.  Jean seems to be an aging hippie.
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Alex was the youngest on the trip, traveing with his parents and sister (we figured out).  Mostly he slouched around, wearing a baseball cap and looking decidedly out of place, but we were surprised at how well he cleaned up for the Captain's dinner...and he was invaluable finding people who missed the bus in Istanbul.
This is Alex's sister (I think).  I almost never saw her on the cruise; this photo was taken the night we went to the "meat restaurant" in Istanbul.
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This is the father of Alex and his sister.  Char says his name is Boris.  He seems to have a Russian background, though obviously has lived in the US for years and has zero residual Russian accent.
This woman is from Australia and had that very practical, skeptical Aussie attitude I recognize so well.  The only time I saw her laughing was when she and another woman managed to get a discounted scarf for someone at the Blue Mosque, convincing the seller that they had paid only 20 Lire for their scarves, and getting him to knock 5 Lire off the price of the scarf he was trying to sell to someone else.
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We had dinner with this couple one night.  They were very friendly and apparently very religious, as I saw them hold hands and pray at every meal.  This picture was taken at the rug demonstration in Istanbul and you can see how excited we all were to sit there and listen to a rug spiel for an hour!
Jean is from Philadelphia and was traveling with her friend Anita, from Florida.  I saw them all throughout the cruise, but they seemed stand-offish until we got to Istanbul, when they were very friendly.
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I really wish I had a better picture of these women.  They were making their twenty-third cruise, their first with Viking.  Both are retired teachers. The woman on the right is Mary.  I don't know the name of the one on the left, but she reminded me of Patricia Neal.
This was the guy I called "day glow guy" for most of the trip until I discovered I knew him from Facebook, and that his name is Albert.  He was a newlywed but I'm not sure what his wife's name is.
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This sweet woman is from Scotland and I so desperately wanted her to be Davina Porter (narrator of the Diana Gabaldon books) that I actually looked up photos of Porter to make sure she was not...but she kinda sorta reminded me of my memories of an interview I had seen with Porter.
Ann was quite a character.  She is French, though has lived in the US for over 40 years (without losing her accent).  She was going to leave the cruise in Odessa and fly to Paris to meet her husband, where they were going to celebrate their anniversary.
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This is Elmer and his wife Jolita.  I can't remember anything specific about them, except they were a delightful couple (I think they are from California)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I wasn't ready

There is more to "coming home" from a vacation than unpacking, doing all the laundry (and trust me, with no access to laundry facilities, EVERYTHING, even the things you hadn't worn yet, smells!), and restocking the kitchen because you tried to run out of everything before you left, so nothing would go bad while you were gone.

Everyone had told me I could put my concerns for my mother behind me while we were gone and I didn't really think I would do that.  I still sent her e-mails every day (which she forgot receiving) and I was worried about her, but it wasn't until I walked into her apartment on Sunday to have the same conversation that we have been having every day for the last couple of years, that I realized that I really had put all that aside and had managed to have a "Mother vacation" after all.

I went and saw her yesterday for awhile and brought some postcards to show her, and brought her toilet paper (how she managed to go through five rolls of paper while we were gone, I don't know!).  She was also out of ice cream, I noticed and she said she needed paper towels, so today I got those for her yesterday and planned to deliver them today.

I'm still having jet lag, I guess.  I don't think of it as jet lag, but I do nap a lot and I managed to fall asleep around 1, waking at 3, with a start, and realizing how late it was.  I considered skipping today, but I had all the stuff to take to her, so I literally staggered out to the car.  I was still half asleep when I pulled up at Atria, though the chat with the girl at the front desk (who has never heard of Istanbul) helped wake me up, and off I staggered to my mother's apartment

The problem was, I think, that she had been sleeping too and was as groggy as I was when she answered the door.

So there we were, two groggy people, one with dementia, trying to have a coherent conversation.

In my cheeriest voice, I said that tomorrow was our big day, the day we go to the Brain Gym again.  She said she's not going to go.  She hates it.   She doesn't need any help because her brain is fine and she realizes I'm trying to help her, but she is never going to go there again. much for help with her brain, which apparently is just fine.  I'm disappointed.  I thought that was going to be our "thing," going to the brain gym and then to lunch, but it was only my thing.  Time to give up and let her just deteriorate.

The ironic thing, which she would never see if I pointed it out to her, was that when her mother-in-law moved into an Atria-like facility my mother spent years so frustrated with her because the facility offered so many opportunities for her, but she refused to interact with people and all she did for years was sit in her room asking why she was still alive and wishing to die.  But if I pointed that out to her, she would not see that she is doing exactly the same thing.  

There is a birthday dinner for all with September birthdays coming up and I asked if she was going to go to it.  She just looked at me like I was crazy. Go interact with other birthday folks?   WhyEVer would she do that?

Ed had been there yesterday, apparently and brought up the last of her stuff, in boxes, on a cart, with a note that it was for me.

You would not believe what happened.

She slouched in her chair, glowered toward the boxes and said "Stuff," with all the venom she used to use for "all this crap" in her house.  She said she didn't know what was in the boxes and I said I didn't either, but when I took them home, if there was anything I thought she wanted, I'd bring it to her.

Then she said something like:  "Well, when I moved here, you told me to just leave everything behind and I did.  You said I wouldn't be needing it.  But how do I know there's nothing in those boxes I might need?"   She then suggested that we go through a box a day to make sure she didn't need anything.

I told her that the thing that botherted her most about her old house was all the "stuff" in it and that she hadn't needed any of it for the past four months, so she obviously didn't need anything that was in any of the boxes.
She got very huffy and said I didn't understand what it was like to leave it all behind and that she really felt she needed to check the boxes to find out if there was anything she really wanted.  I pointed out that even if there was, she had nowhere to put it in her new apartment.  I was very, very angry with Ed for putting me in this position when he could have let me know he was coming and delivered these boxes to my house.

She then got very angry because I was keeping her from her stuff.   But as I have said before, there is an up side to dementia.  I tried to find a subject to talk about other than the big pile of boxes in her room and she was easily distracted.  But I really needed to be out of there, and I definitely needed to get rid of those boxes or she would have them all opened in no time.

When I got to the car and started loading them, I realized that they were all boxes of photos, the photos I told Ed to just throw out because I had no place for.  When I called him later, he told me that they looked like they might mean something to someone and he couldn't bear to throw them away.

So now I have about six big boxes full of photos I didn't want, but I can't throw away either.  Anybody want a nice framed set of bear skin rug type photos of my sister at about 6 months old?