Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Looking Back

When you answer memes as often as I do, and read other pages which print memes, and read prompts when you are running dry on ideas, invariably at some point you would come across the question "if you could go back in time and change something in your past, what would it be?"

I usually answer a question like this by saying that if I had the choice to go back and change anything, I would not.  I say that every experience in my life has contributed to the person that I am today.  I think of the things that came as a result of very bad things that maybe I could change by going back, but would I want to?

If it had not been for Gilbert's death and the year of studying death and grief after he died, I would have fallen apart when David died.  But I'd been through grief and I knew that no matter how much at the depths you are, you will get better in time.  You are never "over it" but life goes on.

If it had not been for Paul's death, I would never have met Steve and what a loss that would have been.  When I think of all the wonderful people I have met as a result of having Steve as a friend, the good and bad experiences I've gone through as a result of being Steve's friend (the worst, Dickie's death, the best, watching Steve collaborate with Ned and seeing their work performed on the stage of Davies Hall in San Francisco (Yeah, OK, Ned's part was minimal, but still he helped).

If I had the choice before Paul's death of having him die or meeting Steve, of course I would have chosen to keep Paul alive.  But to choose now to go back and reverse all that...I don't know.  Steve changed the person that I was then and to choose to undo those changes...  It would be a difficult decision.

So I try to remain open about the "if you could go back" question.... Until today.  Today I figured out what I would do if I could go back to some period in my former life and change something.

I went to Atria to pick up my mother's laundry today.  I have been working on a big project and so I kept up a chatter about the project and how much I was enjoying (mums the word until it's finished) and so our visit went very well.  

I told her about my internet experience with Jeri recently, where I was watching streming video from Berklee and texting her while she was on the other side of Boston, in the orchestra pit for a production of Drowsy Chaperone and then I had to leave to go review A Chorus Line.  

My mother and I talked about how much I'd loved theater all my life.   I remember going to shows in high school, and ushering as many shows as I could in college (so I could get free tickets).

chorusEdit.jpg (91166 bytes)She said she guessed I'd received the theater genes from my grandparents, who were in vaudeville.  As I have written a few times, my grandmother was a dancer in a chorus line and my grandfather was an Irish tenor in a quartet (The Columbia Four). 

They left show biz when my father was born and my grandmother never talked about it and when my grandfather was offered a recording contract, she refused to let him go to New York to discuss it.

I knew as soon as we began talking about things what I would want to do if I could revisit any part of my life.

I would like to go back, knowing what I know now, and interview my grandparents about being in vaudeville.  I want to know how old they were when they started performing, if they had any experience before joining a vaudeville company and how they were "hired." 
What did their parents think of them performing in what may have been a questionable profession at the turn of the 20th century.
I want to know what it was like traveling up and down California with the Dillon and King company. Who were their friends in the company? What did they do when they weren't performing? How much did they get paid?

They never, ever discussed being in show business that I can remember. I'd like to know why.  It's clear they stopped performing because they decided to live as a family, not as itinerant show biz types, but what was that decision like?

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Were they happy to give up, or sad to leave the life?

So many questions I have now that will never be answered.  But the next time someone asks me what I would do if I could go back to some period in my life and change something, you'll bet I'll be answering that I have a bunch of questions to ask my grandparents, especially in light of how I have lived my life and how our family has lived their lives.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


A friend of mine has just had her house painted, new carpets laid, etc.  I went to see the final result, now that the workmen have left.  As I knew it would be, it is beautiful.  She's someone who knows about decorating, matching the right fabric with the right paint, choosing the right antiques, and the right piece of art to pull everything together.

I remember years ago when we were fixing up the little bedroom upstairs to use for guests.  After Ned painted the walls, I spent an afternoon decorating and when I stood at the door to survey my creation, I decided that the then hot-shot TV decorator Christopher Lowell could have stood at the door and thrown things into the room and have it look better than what I had lovingly created.

Sadly, decorating is another of those talents that I never acquired.

When I was growing up, we lived in a flat in San Francisco.  In the flat above us lived our landlord and landlady, Joe and Irma.  The thing I remember most about Irma is that she had a closet stuffed with dresses, noteworthy because when she found a dress she liked, she bought it in small, medium, and large, to accommodate her always fluctuating size.

The other thing I remembet about the two of them was that their front room, where they received guests was filled with overstuffed furniture, which was very comfortable but FILLED the room to where it was almost claustrophobic, and the walls were lined with photos.  I mean lined.  They belonged to a "thespian society" (at the time I was growing up, I thought that meant they acted in plays, but I suspect maybe they were a group of friends who attended plays) and all the photos were of the other members of the thespian society.

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(This is a picture I found among my father's things.  Irma and Joe have Xs on them....and it's blurry because it was blurry to begin with.  But they must have had hundreds of these photos covering their walls, so that it was impossible to know what color the paint on the wall was because there was no space to see anything.)

I knew I would never have a house like Irma and Joe's.  My house would be tastefully decorated with lovely pieces of artwork.  To that end the very first thing we bought with the first check we received as a wedding gift was an etching of Beethoven that we saw in the window of an antique store one evening.  It hung over our piano for years.

Right before we moved to Davis, we attended an art sale.  It is the only one we have ever attended, I think, and was one of those deals where artists who crank out pictures quickly and sell them cheap exhibit their wares.  I don't know why we went to the sale, but as we turned a corner at the end of the row I saw "the painting."  We were about to move away from the San Francisco Bay Area, which I loved, to the flatland and this was the thing I wanted to take with me.  It's probably mass produced and it only cost $100 (I suspect the bulk of the cost was the frame), which was a terrible extravagance for us in 1973, but I loved it.

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It takes up the entire wall on which it hangs and is way too big for the room, but I still love it and it still brings San Francisco back to me when I look at it.  For years it made me less homesick to look at it.

Next to this painting is the fireplace and on the opposite of the fireplace, we do have an nice groupings of Vanity Fair prints of Gilbert and Sulllivan.

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I bought three of them and my friend Alison kindly gave me the fourth.  I love them too.  But that's about the extent of my tasteful decoration (you'll notice that Arthur Sullivan hangs at a rakish angle, which I would have straighted before taking the photo if it hadn't been 1 a.m. when I took it and I would have had to move boxes and probably knocked the picture to the floor trying to fix it!)

I do have a nice grouping, a salute to Peet's coffee, though it is hardly great art....a poster I found at Peet's, in a Long Drug Store frame, a nice print of the SF Chronicle and a cup of coffee, and an article about Peet's that I tore out of a Sunday magazine.

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When the kids were performing, the walls looked more like Irma and Joe's walls.  We had theatre pictures everywhere.  Now we just have the Lawsuit wall which remains.

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It's a nice wall to use for a nice grouping of lovely art prints, but, I dunno...I like remembering the Lawsuit days and I suppose I'll never change the pictures that hang on it.

There is a part of me which wishes I could have the home that my friend does, tastefully decorated with lovely art pieces, but I guess that's not my personality.  All the things hanging on our walls mean something to me, and if they aren't exactly anything anybody would consider works of art, well...we rarely have guests anyway...

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Obsessive Mind

My childhood memories are rife with food memories.  The memories of interpersonal interactions somehow often disappoint, but the food memories live on.   Chocolate cream roll, calzone, enchiladas, apple pie, cinnamon rolls, "goodness sake cookies," home made egg nog, etc., etc., etc.  When I think back on my childhood it is the food memories that leap most pleasantly to mind and make the mouth water for tastes that are long gone and can't be recreated, either because the recipe isn't right or because my own taste buds have dulled with age.

One of my favorite foods was hockies.  You'd call it fried bread dough, but in our house it was "hockies," so named by my great grandmother (whom I don't remember).  It was a special treat when my mother made hockies for breakfast.   She was not a bread maker, but we were 3 blocks from a bakery and she would call and order a pound of bread dough and I would be dispatched to go and get it, bring it home, and in short order my mother would be standing at the stove pulling off chunks of dough, flattening them out into little pancake shapes and then deep frying them.  We would watch the edges puff up as the dough turned from that pasty white to a golden brown. The smell of baking bread surely is one of the best in the world, but the smell of fried bread dough comes up a close second.

Karen and I would sit at the kitchen table and wait for the plate of hockies to be served and then we would dive in, grab a hockie and slather it with real butter.  No jam or powdered sugar or anything else to fancy up the treat, just butter and lots of it.  And eat them fast because a cold hockie can't begin to compare with a hot hockie.

My adult size may be explained by the number of years I ate hockies for breakfast and the contests Karen and I used to have to see who could eat the most (I think my peak was 8-10).

I have made hockies as an adult and it is one past memory that can be recreated, but I don't think I made them often for our kids and I make them less often for Walt and me.  The reason is simply that I can probably eat 8 of them, and polish off 1/8 stuck of butter doing it, and there isn't a single healthy thing about the indulgence.

But whenever I make bread for any reason, pizza or dinner rolls or whatever, I always save out a hunk of dough so we can have hockies the next morning. We had hockies a week or so ago, in fact.  

Last night I decided that I would make hockies for breakfast this morning and herein is a description of the depth of my obsession and how much like a drug addiction it can become.  I wouldn't be making bread dough  just for hockies, of course.  We are out of white bread, my preference.  Walt buys whole wheat for himself and I just don't like whole wheat bread.  So I'd make a big batch of white bread dough, take about 1/4 of it for hockies, and shape the rest into a loaf to bake regular bread.

Making hockies, of course, requires timing.  I could not, for example, put the ingredients for bread in the bread maker and go to sleep, tending to it when I woke up.  The maker, on the dough setting, takes 2 hours to turn out perfectly kneaded bread dough, ready to make hockies and if the machine goes longer than 2 hours, it bakes your bread loaf for you.  So you can't do it at night and if you want them for breakfast, you have to figure out how early you need to get up to do it. 

I went to sleep deciding that when I woke up, which usually happens some time around 5 a.m., at which point I switch from couch to recliner, I would detour through the kitchen, throw the ingredients into the bread maker and then go back to sleep and when I woke up the dough would be all ready.

I actually did wake up at 5 a.m. but was so sleepy, I decided to see if I could go back to sleep for another hour, figuring that it would still be the right time for the hockies to be prepared and ready to be fried.  I didn't get back to sleep again because I was thinking about the hockies, so I finally got up at 5:45, went into the kitchen to start the hockie making process.

Only I couldn't find my bread cookbook.  Now I have lots of bread cookbooks, but my go-to recipe is from my bread bible, "Bread Machine Magic," by Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway.  When all of us on CompuServe were getting into bread machines some 20 or so years ago, we all bought this book and agreed it was the best of the best.  My copy is now  badly stained, with pages falling out of it and I keep thinking I should replace it, but I never do.  Now it was missing.  I looked everywhere.  I even moved furniture to see if it had fallen off the bookshelf onto the floor.  I found four other cookbooks, but not "Bread Machine Magic."

By now I was way more awake than I intended to be while waiting for my ingredients to knead themselves into bread dough.  The dogs, who always let me sleep in, were also awake because of all the activity in the kitchen, thinking maybe they were supposed to be eating early.  (When I ignored them, they all glared at me, mumbled and went back to bed.)

In a panic now, I first went to Amazon and ordered a new copy of the "Bread Machine Magic" -- I needed a new one anyway -- (which I found for under $4 with free shipping because of my Amazon Prime membership).  Then I started looking through my other bread cookbooks for a recipe like the one I use all the time and couldn't find one, but I decided to alter one to what I though I remembered about the go-to recipe.   I got out the container from the bread machine, measured in the water and the milk and put it into the canister.  Next I went to get the flour and discovered I was out of flour.  Almost completely.  I think there might have been 1/4 cup of flour in the container. There would be no hockies today after all.  

Then I started to think about going out for donuts as a fried bread substitute.  But going out for donuts meant getting dressed and as today is a day when I have nothing on my schedule but sitting here and writing two theater reviews, I didn't want to have to get dressed early.  I thought of making Bisquick cinnamon rolls but that would be a biscuit texture and my mouth was set for a yeasty texture.

Nothing appealed to my "mouth hunger" for hockies, so I went to have some tortilla chips with some apple salsa I picked up at the Ikeda fruit market a couple of days ago.  When I picked up the bag of chips I found the "Bread Machine Magic" book under the bag.

I'll bet you don't have such dilemmas when deciding what to have for breakfast!  At least I finally will have a new copy of the bread cookbook.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Stealing

TV Meme, part one
(another meme that seems ready-made for me!)
1. TV Theme songs. Which is your favorite, and which makes you crazy enough to hit mute on the remote?
They don't really have theme "songs" like they used to, songs we could sing.  I loved the theme to The Courtship of Eddie's Father and I still like the theme to Underdog.  I always fast forwarded through the theme to Dexter and though I watch SVU frequently, I cringe when I hear the theme song. Also cringe-worthy is All in the Family.  Sorry, but Edith Bunker's voice was nails on a chalkboard to me.  And after the first day or two, I can't stand to hear the theme to any Olympic broadcast!  There are many others that I like and dislike.

2. The Classics. What is your favorite Classic TV show?

The Dick Van Dyke Show.

3. What character from a Classic TV show would you like to be?

Timmy's mom on Lassie.

4. Can you remember a line you liked from a Classic TV show?

I don't know that there is a "line" in there that is memorable, but my favorite situation from Lassie was one that June Lockhart told on an interview about the show.  Apparently her character's foot was caught in a bear trap. She shouts for help. When Lassie shows up, she takes the risk and sends the dog for the "C" clamp sitting on the sink back at the house. Lassie, being only a dog, returns with a c-shaped cheese slicer and Lockhart sends her back to the kitchen again for the clamp which Lassie, of course, gets right the second time.

5. Heroes. What show featuring those who protect your country (fiction or non-fiction) is your favorite?

NCIS, of course, with runners up being Criminal Minds and NCIS-LA.

6. TV Cops. Who is your favorite (past or present) TV cop? Which TV cop do you think was the most crooked, or the most inept?

Favorite is Monk.  Most inept would be Barnie Fife.

7. You need to hire a bodyguard for yourself. Which TV cop do you choose?

Jack Bauer.  Ain't nobody gonna mess with Jack Bauer.  But I guess technically Jack isn't a cop, so I'll choose Olivia Benson from SVU.

8. TV Doctors. Which TV doctor would you choose to remove your appendix? Which TV doctor would you not let touch you with a 10-foot pole?

Oh dear.  So many doctors and I've watched almost all of them.  Probably Marcus Welby could handle my appendix.  There are no doctors like him left in the world (for that matter, I suspect there never WERE any doctors like him!).  As for who should not touch my appendix, that would be Gregory House.  I'd end up dying of some exotic disease while he and his crew ran expensive tests and lopped off important pieces of my anatomy in the name of scientific exploration.

9. TV Moms. Which TV mom would you have liked to have had for your own? Is there a TV mom you would never want as your own?

I'll go with Samantha Stephens (Bewitched) for mom I'd like.  It would be fun to have a witch for a mom.  Or maybe Claire Huxtable, who could do it all, make it look easy, and still look glamorous.  I would not like to have Donna Reed for a mother (shudder) nemesis.  As for the mom I'm most like, that would be Roseanne! The mom I had was probably more like June Cleaver.

10. TV Dads. Which TV Dad would you have most liked to have for your own dad? On the flipside, who was the TV Dad you’d have least liked to have had?

The Dad I'd like to have had was Jim Anderson of Father Knows Best. The Dad I had was Archie Bunker.  The Dad I'd least like to have is Tony Soprano.

11. Comedies. How do you feel about sitcoms? Good, wholesome fun or saccharine inanity?

I run hot and cold on sitcoms.  Broad, slapstick comedy does nothing for me.   Well written comedy like Big Bang Theory I love.

12. If your life was a sitcom, what would the title be?

Well, Funny the World, of course!

13. If you went to a comedy club on amateur night, and they gave you some jokes and a microphone, would you go onstage?

Not for all the tea in China.

14. Reality. Are you a fan of Reality TV? What’s your “can’t miss” reality TV show (or shows), or what reality TV show do you suppose the devil plays on the TV in Hell as punishment?

There's "reality TV" and there's "reality TV."  I love Amazing Race, tolerate Dancing with the Stars and Survivor.  I hate any housewives of anywhere, or any mating and dating reality show.  I think Hell would be it's own reality show; I doubt people will be watching TV, but if they were it would probably be that woman who teaches dance to young girls, or the mothers yelling at their toddlers to display well on the runway.  Or maybe an eternity of Honey BooBoo.  (Excuse me; I have to go to confession now to erase all of my past sins and clear my way into eternity of Honey BooBoo is more threatening than an eternity of fire!)

15. If you were given a free ticket to be on any reality show, which one would you choose?

Hmmm...I'm too old and decrepit for Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars or Survivor.   (Me on THERE is a sit com for ya!)  Not being an exhibitionist, I can't think of a single reality show that I would like to be on, unless it was one that dealt with animals or something like that.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Here's to the Ladies Who Lunch

What a fun lunch we had today!

I went over to Atria for my weekly lunch with my mother.  It was a deliciously rainy day and I was happy to find a parking place close to the building. On my way down to her apartment I ran into my friend Peggy and our friend Nancy.  Peggy, to my disappointment, has now moved to a different facility across town.  She has been the one who kept tabs on my mother and reported things to me when she was concerned, or told me when things were going great.  I miss her.  But she had come back for lunch with Nancy and they invited us to join them.

I went and got my mother and the four of us sat together.   Service in the restaurant was absolutely the best it has ever been.   I swear my meal (crab cakes and clam chowder) came within 5 minutes of ordering it.   I have been known to sit there for half an hour waiting for a bowl of soup.  

But today the service time was irrelevant.  We were having too much fun visiting.  Peggy, who in her time at Atria must have learned the name and back story of every person in the building, whether resident, server, or staff.   Everybody loved her and ever few minutes another person would stop by the table to say hello and ask how she liked her new place (where she is now is so close to her daughter's that her grandkids can walk over to visit)

Nancy and my mother are an interesting pair.  My mother is 94, Nancy is 90 and both have some degree of dementia.  But both enjoy each other and laugh at whatever they are saying to each other, whether it makes sense or not.  Peggy and I both treat them as if they have no problem at all and we all end up laughing a lot.

Ultimately I think our lunch lasted 2 hours and then Peggy had to leave to get her hair cut and my mother was ready for a nap.

I had some papers for her to sign.  I found out that California has a program for people with disabilities, including cognitive problems.  She can get a free telephone with big buttons that have pictures on them, so she doesn't have to remember where she put phone numbers. She signed the application, but is afraid it might be "too complicated" for her to understand.  We'll see...our state taxes have been paying for this program for years. Might as well see if we can get some benefit out of it.

In the afternoon I came home to take a nap before reviewing a show tonight.  I was not successful in getting to sleep, but the show was so good it kept me awake, so the nap was not necessary.  But in the late afternoon, I had one of my favorite kinds of internet experiences with Jeri.

She had been working on a production of Legally Blonde at Berklee College of Music.  I didn't get exactly what her role was with this show, but she had been working on the set and we discussed some of her feelings about it.  I asked if the show was going to be live streamed so I could watch it, and it was.

It was streamed last night, but I was working and couldn't see it, but it was streamed again tonight, and so at 4:30, Pacific time, I was connected to the Berklee College of Music theater in Boston watching the live production of Legally Blonde, while chatting by text with Jeri, who was in the orchestra pit of a theater across town at Boston College playing Thoroughly Modern Millie just before I had to leave the house go to review A Chorus Line here in Davis.

This is what it is to be part of a theater family!!

Today is Jeri's birthday.  I want to write something profound, but I did.  Several times:

and a group message I put together for her

Happy birthday to the woman who changed my life 48 years ago today.   Dad was right back was never the was better.  I love you, Jeri.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Today at Logos

When I arrived at Logos today, Sandy said it had been a quiet morning.  She had only 8 sales and guesstimates that she'd made about $60.   There were already people in the store when she left, so I figured I was ahead of the game to begin with.

But it started slowly.  I decided not to bring the Van Gogh book this week because I felt like reading something by Bill Bryson.  I brought his "Shakespeare, The World as Stage" and had lots of time to read it.   Absolutely fascinating book.  Not for what it tells you about Shakespeare, but what it doesn't tell you about him.  For a playwright so famous, you'll be amazed to find out what we do not know about him!

In time a middle aged woman came in looking for DVDs or books about classic movies.  Couldn't help her with the DVDs, but I did direct her to our meager supply of books about movies.  She didn't find anything she liked, but as she was leaving she told me she was walking and wanted to know if there was anywhere where she could buy an apple.  I couldn't think of any place off the to of my head other than the Co-op, which is a bit of a schlep from Logos, but I told her I had some mandarins with me and offered to give her one.  She was thrilled.  Then, as she was leaving, I remembered that there is a Whole Foods about 3 blocks away, so gave her directions to there.

A very dirty man came in holding a limp, wrinkled dollar bill and asked if I could give him four quarters, which I did.  I don't think he even knew it was as book store!

A young man looked through the cookbooks and chose "The World of Bread Making," which I assured him was a great book that I had been making bread out of for many, many years.  I told him that if his mother liked to bake bread, she would love the book.

A very tall man with the bear of someone in the cast of Mad Men came in, looking for detective novels.  He browsed for awhile (our supply only takes up one bookcase) and didn't buy anything.  I told him to check outside, because many of the mystery/detective books are on the bargain carts, but he didn't buy anything.

Two women in exercise-type clothing came in, drinking soft drinks in paper cups, with straws.  I wondered if those were yoga outfits when I noticed that one of the women was wearing a yoga t-shirt.  She also had 2 watches on her wrist.   Neither of them bought anything.

A very tall woman talking on her cell phone came, looked through the humor section, and then walked out, still talking on her cell phone.  She never made eye contact.

It was 3 p.m. now.  I had been there an hour and had sold only one book.

I kept hearing the sounds of people in the book store, but everybody that I had seen enter had been accounted for.  Suddenly a man appeared from the back shelves.  I had never seen him enter.  He smiled and left.  Another no-sale.

Two girls with a bike and a dog were walking by outside when one of them grabbed a book off the bargain cart and started squealing "oh my god! oh my god!"  I was certain she would come in and buy whatever the book was, but whatever made her so excited was returned to the cart and they went on their way.
But a young man came in with a bargain book, saying he was amazed to find something by Jewish philosopher Martin Buber out there.  He said he always stops by the store to see if there is anything that interests him, he paid his $1 and left.

A guy with Alfred Einstein hair and a long beard came in checking the foreign language books (Spanish, I think), but he didn't buy anything.

A middle-aged man with droopy jowels came in and bought a book on some political subject. 
A guy in shorts with a tank top and a baseball cap with a "P" on it, came in and asked if we had books on dog training.  I showed him where they were.  He said he was looking for something Cesar Milan, which he found.   When I was ringing him up, asked him about his dog.  He said he's going to be getting a Rottweiler/Doberman mix next week and told me that right now the dog has heartworms and will have to undergo treatment.  He took Cesar Milan with him and left.

There was a lot of noise at this point.  It was a nice day and the front door was opened.  A car drove by with the sound cranked up to the top and the driver singing so loudly he drowned out the speakers.  Fortunately he didn't stay in front of the store very long!

A man with a pony tail so long it almost reached his waist came in looking for a specific children's fantasy book. I directed him to both the fantasy section and the children's section, but he didn't find what he was looking for.

The weird guy from a couple of weeks ago came in with 2 bargain books on gardening.  There is no tax on outside books, so his purchase came to only $2 and he handed me two dollar bills that reeked of cigarette smoke.

Sandy came back with four bags of books to donate, but had to leave quickly because she was illegally parked.

A girl came in and bought 1 literature book and two books of poetry.   She paid in cash and says she always gets cash before she comes into Logos so she's not tempted to buy too much.

A man who looked like a Native American (but who had a Mexican name) came in.  He had long straight black hair that reached to his shoulders and he was wearing black leather kilts.  He was looking for books on philosophy or poetry.   I thought he left withing buying anything, but he was just hidden.  He ended up being the biggest sale of the day -- $33.48 for 4 literature books and 4 philosophy books)

A guy who regularly comes in with donations brought a backpack full of mysteries, then checked out the mystery section, but didn't see anything he liked.

Bruce (the guy in white who staples things to his sweater) came in.   No sweater today.  He was only here a short time and then left without buying anything.

More interest outside -- three women spent a lot of time in the romance section of the bargain books cart, but didn't my anything, and a guy nicely dressed in a suit walked by with a brace of 3 dogs, which I thought was a nice picture.

It was 5 p.m. and I thought "my friend" was not coming in (he's almost always there before 5), but he came in at 5:08 and bought a book about Japan.   I didn't catch the title, but it had "Shogun" in it.  I had to make change for him and didn't screw it up this time!

A young woman in a navy blue business suit, looking very professional came in, made the periphery, then checked the bargain books, then left without buying.

A guy in jeans and a sport shirt spent some time in the foreign language books, looking thrugh them while checking things on his cell phone, and sighing.   We left without buying anything, heaving a huge audible sign and slapping his thigh in disappointment, while still having the cell phone to his ear.

There was an influx of customers (4-5) near 6, lots of foot traffic outside (people and dogs), a train whistle in the distance from the nearby train station, and backed up traffic behind a bus whose motor was revving.
But none of that was my problem.  Peter and Susan's son Tom had come to relieve me.  I counted my sales and I, too, had made only 8 sales, but my largest sale was $10 bigger than Sandy's, so I may have won today. 

Walt showed up to take me to the car, and it was time to go home for another week.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Me and Lady Iris

I had an Auntie Mame lunch this afternoon.
My friend, "Lady Iris," loves that story -- she loved the book, the movie and the musical (though agrees that nothing quite equals Rosalind Russell's performance in the original, non-musical movie).

She has recently retired and has been saying we should get together and do an Auntie Mame lunch.  "We'll have martinis and salty fish jam," she said. Today was the day.

I decided to wear an old jangly charm bracelet I had in my jewelry box.  (I was remembering the scene where Mame, in a play with her friend Vera Charles, wears a noisy bracelet and ends up getting it caughter in the star's costume.)

I hadn't seen my own bracelet in probably decades and when I looked at it this morning, I saw that one of the charms was from my 21st birthday, in 1964, so I've had the bracelet since before Walt and I were married.

Needless to say, my wrist has gained a bit of girth in the intervening 50 years and we couldn't get it on, so I didn't wear it.

There is a huge freeway repair going on in Sacramento right now which is tying up traffic all over the place.  It's the main story on all the news broadcasts, there are web sites to help you maneuver your way around the construction.  I decided to avoid it completely by going through town.  Still, I left myself plenty of time in case I hit traffic tie ups.  

As it turned out, I hit NO traffic at all and actually got into Sacramento faster than anticipated.  I didn't want to show up for lunch an hour early, so I kind of piddled around, listening to my audio book.  I actually parked right near the house for awhile, then drove around again, and ultimately arrived right on time, at 11:30.

Lady Iris put me to the task of mixing the martinis (stirred, not shaken--it bruises the gin) and, as we usually do, settled in to catch up on our lives, political frustrations, and the state of gay rights around the world.  It had been a long time since I'd had a martini.  There was a time when it was as mother's milk to me, but now that water is my preferred beverage, it took a bit of time to stimulate those old gin taste buds.  I nursed mine throughout the hours that I was there, and added quite a lot of ice to the original mix.  Ahhh...the days of my youthful debauchery are, I fear, dead and buried!

In time, we served ourselves salad and French bread and the movie started. We had a wonderful time reliving that witty dialog ("Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!") and passing around the box of Kleenex toward the end.

This is never a movie that shows up on my "favorites" list, but watching it I remembered what a good film it was.  I read the book before it was ever a film.  Some people would classify it as a madcap comedy and there is no doubt that it is uproariously funny, but Rosalind Russell gives the high-living, hard-partying Mame such depth of character.  She champions diversity, equality, family love and the fine arts.  And she loves nephew Patrick, her "little love" in a way all children should know they are loved.

It was nice to visit with her again.

When the movie ended it was about 3:30 and I decided I'd better get on the road before rush hour traffic mixed with highway repair.

When I got home, I had the feeling that I had "lived," and wondered what I should do now....

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tune Up Complete

She's had her spark plugs checked, her joints lubed, her tires rotated and she's ready to go for another year.
After taking my mother to meet her doctor last week, this morning I decided it was the day to take her in for lab tests.  She had to be fasting and I was trying to figure out how that was going to work.  If I called her the night before or wrote it on her calendar (or both), there is no way she would remember.  I had to get to her before she went to breakfast, but I also didn't want to wake her up.

So I got up at 6, got to Atria at 7 and sat in one of the easy chairs near the dining room, reading, until 8.  I figured if she went to breakfast early I'd see her as soon as she came down her hallway.  

At 8 it was late enough that I didn't feel bad about waking her up.   When I got to her apartment, the newspaper was still there, so I knew she was still sleeping.  I let myself in very quietly and went back to my book again.  About 20 minutes later, I heard her up and walking around, so I called out "Good morning!" to her so she wouldn't be shocked to walk into the living room and find me sitting there.

She was very out of it, having difficulty waking up, but we sat and talked for awhile and she kept saying she had forgotten that she had to go to the doctor today.  I kept telling her that I hadn't told her yet.  She asked over and over again what they were going to do to her (she thought she was getting a shot).

We finally got out to the car.  She loved the beautiful day and it was beautiful.  Crisp and clear with a hint of warmth.  The lab tests went very easily, though she repeated again how much she hated having blood drawn.   I meant to remind her that part of my duties on my very first job was to hold the arm steady of people, like her, who were afraid of blood draws.  

She told the phlebotomist that she was 99 and he told her she didn't look nearly that old ("I thought you were in your 70s," he said.  Harumph.) and he hoped to see her next year when she had 3 digits in her age.

After we left the lab, I talked her into stopping for coffee and something to eat at a local coffee shop, since neither of us had eaten anything yet. She said more than once we should just go to Atria's dining room, where I could have anything I wanted, but I finally convinced her to try the coffee shop. Like Easter dinner, it was OK, but she was clearly uncomfortable, disoriented, and would have preferred to be at Atria, which is a place she knows.  I must remember that next time I decide to give her a "treat" and take her out to eat somewhere. It is no longer the treat for her that it is for me.

She did, however, love being out and seeing trees.  I could not count the number of times she raved about how beautiful this or that tree was and how this really is a very pretty town.

When we came back to Atria, I was reminded that it was just about exactly a year ago that I decided to just stop by Atria before we signed the contract at the place in Petaluma.  I remember the first thing I saw was the rose garden, all in bloom and knew instantly that this was the right place.

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In the past year, the roses have bloomed, been cut back, lain dormant and now have bloomed again.

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She just loved them and was particularly impressed by a beautiful coral colored rose.  

She said again that she's glad she moved here.

When we got back to the apartment, I checked her pill bottles and discovered one of them was empty.  There had been at least a couple dozen pills in there the last time I checked, less than 2 weeks ago, and I don't know if she took them all or threw them all away.  She doesn't remember having pills.  So I've taken her pills away and will now start doing her medication management because it's clear that she really can't do that at all.

We got a check written for a bill she had to pay and then I came home.  I had just about an hour before I was meeting a friend for lunch downtown.   Since I had just finished a lovely eggs benedict, I wasn't sure what I would have for lunch, but found that a cup of Panera soup was just about the perfect size.

We finished lunch, I came home, and took a 2 hour nap.  After the interrupted and then shortened night of sleep, all the medical stuff, and having two meals within 2 hours of each other, I was ready for a recharge.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Preserving History

There are really good things about keeping a blog, or about journaling in general.  It's wonderful to come across things that people in the family have written about certain parts of their lives.  For example, I have a travel diary that my godmother kept when she and her husband (my grandmother's cousin) went on their honeymoon to Europe in 1913.  The ink has faded so it's difficult to read, though her handwriting is very neat.  I don't know exactly how long the trip took, but several weeks.  I have not read the whole thing, but what I have read has been fun to see what travel was like in 1913 -- they had to take the ship to Ireland, for example, since there were no flights! 

(In the back of the book are a few little clippings that she saved, and a little pamphlet advertising the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls, which cost, at that time 50 cents.)

My mother kept a journal when she and her then-new husband traveled to the Netherlands to visit his family and do some traveling with his cousin and her husband.  My mother is not an interesting writer and while she told me about the frustrations she was going through at the time, her written account reads more like an itinerary than a journal, so I have only read a little bit of it, but it's there if I want to read it.

(The videos that they took on that trip kind of match the tone of the journal.  Fred was a carpenter and the video that I saw showed a brief clip of a bunch of windmills and then endless inside shots of nails and joints and how the windmill was put together.  I fell asleep when they showed it to us.)

Funny the World is the story of my life from 2000 forward.   Prior to that, I kept copies of letters for a number of years until the size of the collection started to get out of hand (I still have those copies) and then kept journals for various stretches of time.  I kept a journal for about 10 years or so of our kids' early life, which I retyped, edited, and had hard bound for the kids one Christmas.   I called it "How I 'Did It'" since everybody always asked me how I managed to survive raising five children. Knowing how positively that book was received made me sorry that I didn't continue it, but there is a big gap from about 1988 until this journal started in 2000.  Some interesting things happened during that time.

My friend Alison recently gave me her collection of letters we wrote to each other while writing the Lamplighter histories, and that was fun to re-live.

I also kept travel journals when we traveled to England or Ireland or Scotland (by the time we went to the continent, I had Funny the World to write in)

Sometimes it's not exactly nice to relieve those parts of your life. I took a trip of a couple of weeks with my mother and her husband in their RV.   Keeping a journal kept me sane.  Fred and I were usually cordial to each other, but there were things about him that drove me to distraction, primarily his bigotry.  My mother would deny vehemently that he had any bigotry about him, but I heard every ethnic and gender slur there ever was on that trip, to the point where I would go to the back of the RV when he was driving just so I would not have to listen to him.   When we parked on their property, I was so very glad that there was a separate trailer on the property to which I could escape when I couldn't take it any more.  He would also do things like come into the trailer where we were watching a program on TV and just change the channel because he wanted to watch something else, or turn it off in the middle of a program without saying anything because he was tired and wanted to go to bed.   It's all written down in my journal of that trip, which I don't want to throw away.   Fred is gone and my mother wouldn't remember.

I found the worst journal this afternoon, though.  I haven't seen it in years.  It chronicles a period of several weeks when I went to help a friend who was going through some difficult times.  I'm not going to be specific, but I remember the time as being absolutely horrible, but when I came across the journal today and re-read it, it was much, much worse than I remembered.  She and I were barely speaking during parts of that time, her husband hit on me every single day that I was there and made lewd phone calls to me at work.  I barricaded myself in my room each night, piling furniture and suitcases up against the door, for fear he would come in and rape me.  The tales went on and on and on. Walt remembers my calling him in tears because I was so miserable. Reading it now, I wonder how I would behave today.  I would like to think that I would be on the plane home after the first week, but I was trying to keep peace, grit my teeth and just count down the days until I could finally go home again.

The thing that hurts the most about that time was that I finally talked with my friend after she and her husband had split up, about how he had behaved toward me and how miserable I was, but to this day she has not said one word about it.   No apology, no sympathy, no excuses.  She just listened.  Twice.   And after I tried to get her to express something about what I had experienced, she seems to have ended our friendship.  I haven't heard from her in two years.

I really should send her my journal.  But I won't.  I'm still trying to protect her from the worst of it.

I am, for all intents and purposes, still a wimp, even 20+ years after the fact.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A P.S. and Easter

I was standing in the shower thinking about yesterday's entry this morning and realized I wanted to add something to it.

Ned has said in the past that I spend a lot of time talking about getting old.  And I do.  Because I am.  And so is he (and maybe he doesn't think it's quite so odd to dwell on it now that he's older!).  But the reason I do is that I am finding the aging process fascinating.  I have read in many places that most of us, when asked how we feel, choose somewhere in our middle 30s as how we feel, mentally.  We don't feel our brain getting older and when it does, like with my mother, we aren't aware of it.

But you can't ignore those aging symptoms in the body and how it betrays the mental age where we feel we sit.  And, as I am fascinated by what goes on in the brain that brings on dementia and imagining what sorts of changes have happened to my mother that she is not aware of, or what is going on inside the head of someone incapacitated by a stroke--and are they aware of what is going on -- I am also fascinated by when these little changes in our bodies take place.  When did it become so impossible to reach something on an upper shelf that I now use a pair of tongs to help me?   When did climbing stairs become so painful (one of these days I'm going to pull the bannister off the wall trying to drag myself upstairs here in our house!).  I just find the whole process fascinating on a mental level and frustrating as hell on a physical one.  So I did the "baseline" entry so I could see, in a year, if I have deteriorated any more or if I'm holding steady at that point.

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But let's talk about Easter.  Easter has been one of those holiday/holydays that has assumed less and less importance in our family over the years.   It was, I think, an Easter Sunday when we had to practically stand in the parking lot (where we could neither see nor hear) because there was no room inside the church that I decided to stop attending Mass. After that, for me, it became the secular holiday of Spring and bunnies and eggs, though Walt, the good Catholic, continues  to go to Mass and of course goes to Mass on Easter.   (It's a shame we will spend our eternities in different areas of the afterlife.   He'll have the air conditioning),

For me, it was about the dinner.  First I cooked a family dinner for many years, then Walt's sister-in-law took over hosting the Easter dinners and we joined with Norm and Olivia at their house, with a lot of her family. She set a beautiful table and it was always a gala affair, often with music from her talented family, which I loved. Then when my mother started feeling uncomfortable around large groups of strangers, we split up.  Walt would go to his brother's house and my mother and I would go out to dinner.  The kids joined whichever group they felt closer to at any year, if they were able to join us at all.

When my mother stopped liking to go out for dinner, I would bring dinner to her house and cook there.  Ned and Marta sometimes joined us, but it was too far for Jeri or Tom.  Now Walt's sister-in-law is taking an Easter cooking holiday, so for holidays, we go to the brunch at Atria, which was my plan for today, but when I went to make a reservation for brunch, I found they were full and I could not, so another plan had to be worked out quickly.

I decided that I would bring her here and would rent Philomena, which we still have not seen, and then I would cook an Easter dinner.  That way we could have lamb and not pay an exorbitant price for it (amazingly, I was able to get a small roast which is, while expensive, affordable).  And of course I bought ice cream cones for dessert, since she has to have her ice cream after each meal.

I had a good time shopping for dinner and even found a dozen roses for under $10.  Unheard of!  I decided to use my godmother's blue glass plates, which I love and which I claimed when we moved my mother up to Atria.  This was going to be the first "company dinner" that I have hosted in many years, even though there would only be the three of us.  "All that crap" still surrounded the dining area, but the table looked lovely.

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In the early afternoon, Walt went out and got flowers to take to the cemetery (for Paul's 15th anniversary) and then we picked up my mother, who was astonished to learn we were going to have Easter dinner.  If only I'd told her she would have dressed up.  Guess the note on her calendar and the two phone calls weren't enough! When I picked her up, she said she was feeling disoriented today, as if she sometimes wasn't sure where she was.

We went to the cemetery, which, for a cemetery, looked beautiful today.  I was going to take a picture, and forgot. I got the flowers arranged in the vase at the grave site and we drove home by the "scenic route" (where I knew we would see lots of flowers, which she loved).

When we got here, we settled in to watch the movie, and the new smart TV froze.  I about cried, but I kept punching buttons, while my mother helpfully kept repeating that she was glad her TV wasn't so complicated.  I finally unfroze it, but while I know what I did, I don't know what froze it in the first place.

Halfway through the movie, Peach called to wish us a happy Easter and my mother was very happy to talk with her.  I meant to suggest she call, and am glad she thought of it by herself.  I had earlier showed my mother a picture of Bob that Peach posted on Facebook, which shows him looking like the Bob we all remember and I thought that would make her happy.  She said he looked familiar, but she couldn't place who he was.

I made a stupid mistake ordering Philomena.  Given the option of $5 for the movie in HD and $4 for it NOT in HD, I went with the cheaper option which gave us, not surprisingly, a vastly inferior picture.  I really don't know if my mother "got" it or not because later at dinner when I mentioned the movie, she said "oh?  Did you watch a movie?" I said that it was the movie, with Judi Dench (her favorite actress) that we had just seen, first she had this look like she didn't have a clue who Judi Dench was and then said that she was glad I had the chance to watch it.  But owell.  It passed the time.

When the movie was over, I went in and made some hors d'oeuvres, Walt fixed a vodka and tonic for us (which she used to have every night before moving to Atria, and just after moving to Atria).  I used the godmother's beautiful blue glass glasses, which I've always loved.  When I handed my mother her drink, she said, in a puzzled tone, "those glasses look familiar."  She took a sip of her drink and had one of the hors d'oeuvres (leaving 11 for Walt and me) and there didn't seem to be anything to talk about, because I had to be in the kitchen and Walt is not a conversationalist.

I remembered that I had a box of things from her school years that she said awhile ago she wished I'd bring to her apartment so she could go through it, so I brought the box in.  She found an autograph book from 8th grade and read through every page of it, though showed no interest in the rest of the box (which contained her high school Varsity letters, among other things).

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Dinner was served and I very smartly let everyone dish up their own plates. As I knew she would, she had one small slice of lamb, a small spoonful of potatoes, a small spoon of green beans, and a little bit of salad.  But she ate it all, which was nice, and she didn't complain about the amount of food.  

I had bought ice cream cones for dessert, which we laughed about, since that is her standard dessert order at Atria.

Once dessert was finished, I could see she really wanted to get home, so I took her home, and she apologized profusely that I had to drive "all that way" to take her home (all 0.8 mile of it!).

I had the feeling that she really would have preferred to have eaten at Atria and that this was not the treat I had hoped it would be for her, but that does take the pressure off me in the future. I won't go out of my way to try to find things outside of Atria to do with her, since she seems more comfortable just staying in her own little world.

She did say she wants a big party when she reaches hunnert, though.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


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This pot shot card by Ashleigh Brilliant (who really is brilliant, though quite eccentric, if you aren't familiar with him!) gave me an idea for a kind of periodic update on aging.

I have been recording my mother's dementia, without initially realizing I was doing it, for some time now, ever since Kathy, Peach and I started noticing her memory loss and discussing it at length on our rides home after Cousins Days.

Last night I noticed something I have been noticing for some time, about myself, and I thought it might be a good idea to do a self-evaluation about where I am on the aging spectrum, to have a "baseline" to compare with in later years.  In addition to the pot shot, this was also prompted by a program called "Mister Rogers and Me," which Walt mentioned this morning.   I commented that I had seen it before and took umbrage at the beginning where "Me" mentioned moving into a new house, going for a walk and seeing "this old man outside of his house."  The old guy, he went on to say, was the 70 year old Fred Rogers, and the rest of the show is about Rogers and his relationshiop with "Me."

70 year old "old guy," huh?  Well, the body does begin to slow down.  I've been dealing with minor aches and pains that slow me down for so long that I don't even notice them any more, though they do worsen, slowly, over time.   I think of my grandfather every time I go to the kitchen or the bathroom.  I remember his getting out of our car and walking to the house, bent over at a slight degree and walking with arms swinging.  I don't know how old he was at the  time [probably 70 :)].  But he had a very distinctive gait, and every time I walk that way I think of him.  I don't walk that way when out in public, or even in front of Walt, but truth be told, it's the most comfortable way for me to walk when nobody is noticing.  It's kind of a lumbering gait, with each step starting out on the heel of the foot, and knees bent slightly as if to absorb the impact.  The opposite arm swings forward and the back is sloped.

Of course my back is sloped all the time.  I remember as a kid my mother always telling me to stand up straight and not slouch.  Now I can't stand up straight if I try.  I stand as straight as I can possibly get for photos, with shoulders held back as much as I can, though it is an uncomfortable position for me, and then look at myself in the picture and I am very definitely stooped over, in spite of thinking I am standing straight. I remember being shocked when Dr. G told me there was no way I was 5'7-1/2" which I thought I was my whole life.  I'm now more like 5'6" and things I used to reach with ease I can't reach any more.  Pictures of Walt and me show me sometimes shorter than he is.

For several years now getting to a standing position takes a few adjustments while the hips and knees click into place.  Sometimes it takes seconds, sometimes it takes more seconds than usual (not at all helped by excited dogs jumping on me--I swear one of these days they are going to knock me over into the dog bed!).  Sometimes there is a twinge of pain as the clicking into place happens.  It's brief and I'm used to it, but it's part of my aging process.

My mother does a lot of complaining about her back problems, but I've had back problems for so long I don't even think about it.  It's nothing serious, but it aches to stand up for any length of time, and I often adopt her treatment, which is just to sit down for a bit until the ache leaves and then go on about my business. When I have to stand for any period of time, the ache becomes all I can think about. When I stood with the woman in the parking lot after the dementia meeting the other day, fortunately I had my cane with me because while she talked on and on and on, my back was just screaming and I needed to lean heavily on my cane.

The cane (just succumbed and bought that TV-advertised Hurry Cane so I can fold it up and carry it in my purse) helps greatly with balance and locomotion, though I can get along without it.  I realize I can walk faster and steadier using the cane, but when I strike out at (my) top speed, I'm still slower than everybody around me.  Walking "together" with someone is something I never do because my companion is always at least four strides ahead of me.  I can't keep up (and if I try, I'm so winded I can't talk and don't enjoy the walk).
I used to be a nightowl and I suppose compared to most people my age, I still am, but lately I've been realizing that after a certain period -- usually halfway through The Daily Show -- that my body and brain just don't want to work any more.  I can, and frequently do, stay up past midnight, but the brain function just isn't the same and a part of me is screaming to drop whatever project I'm trying to finish (often this journal) and just go to sleep.

Sleep has become a more necessary thing.  Both Walt and I usually take a nap at some time during the day.  Some days I seem to fall asleep whenever I sit down to watch TV (of course Walt has done that for many years and is famous for his instant naps).  But after such a long period of sleep problems -- for decades, really -- I am now sleeping often 7 hours at night, which is huge for me.  The dogs are helping because they are really very considerate and though they may come and check to see if I'm still sleeping (and I pretend I am), they tiptoe around here and don't start acting frisky and ready for the day until I finally let them know that I'm awake.  Then all hell breaks loose.  I love those few minutes when I first wake up and we have my "You're AWAKE" love-in.

My appetite is less now.  I almost always give Walt at least 1/3 of my dinner every night because though I dish up what I think I can eat, it turns out I can't.  I understand when my mother (and previously Walt's mother) complain about the amount of food served at restaurants.  This amazes me because I've had such a big appetite all of my life.  Of course I still snack between meals, so I'm not likely to lose much weight, but it surprises me that I can't eat what I used to.

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I wasn't going to leave behind this delicious slice of prime rib at the Harris Ranch the other day, but I only ate a few of the French fries, which is very unusual for me.  Love those thin fries; just didn't feel like eating them.
My taste buds are also less sensitive than before.  Things that I used to love to eat are just "meh" now because the flavor isn't as strong as it used to.  It makes it easier to stop eating when my stomach feels full because my mouth isn't getting the same "delicious" signals that it used to.

Both Walt and I are having mild hearing problems.  Neither of us can hear the other if we are distracted somewhere else, though if we are paying attention, the hearing is fine.  Walt has had his hearing tested and said the doctor says it's OK.  I would insist that the doctor is wrong, if it weren't that I'm having the same problems he is.

Most annoying to me of the aging signs I notice is that my typing is not what it used to be.  I still type fast, but I make more typos and the worst of them is typing a word I did not mean to type, when my brain is thinking of the correct word.  I don't know why that happens, but I may be thinking of "black" and my fingers will type "white."  The fingers have taken on a life of their own.  It's like I have my own personal ouija board instead of a computer keyboard under my fingers sometimes.

And of course when you have a parent with dementia, those memory lapses are very worrisome.  I do word problems all the time, hoping that will help keep the brain cells active, but there are still those times when you are trying to think of a movie star, like Ralph Bellamy, for example.  And it just won't come.  You think and think and think and finally try to find a movie he was in (sometimes you can't remember any movies he was in too!) and look it up on ImDB (thank GOD for computers!).   You get the page, see his name and think "Oh...of course...I knew that") then shut down ImDB and the name is gone again and you have to look it up again.  I hate times like that.  They don't happen that often and I only assume they will happen more often as I get older.

Doing math in my head is an impossibility now.  I need a calculator to add 2 and 2 some days.  (4, right?)
I really do have to put on my glasses to find my glasses.  It's difficult to focus on anything.  I have to put my glasses in the same spot every night or I run the risk of not being able to find them.

At least my teeth are OK!  Thank you, Cindy Belgum.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

It's a Boy!

Abbie watch finally ended around 8:45 tonight, with the birth of a healthy colt.

I have been checking BarnCam regularly for what seems like a month.   At night I take my iPad to the living with me, put it on the coffee table and whenever I wake up in the middle of the night, I can check in on Abbie.  My preference would have been to sleep in the recliner, but Sheila just gets all discombobulated when I don't at least start the night on the couch, so in deference to Sheila (who is delirious with joy when I start down the hall to the living room), I pack the iPad and take it with me.  She doesn't mind when I get up at 3 and move back to the reciner.   (These dogs run my life too successfully!)

Anyway I had just started spaghetti sauce simmering and a pot of water boiling for penne pasta and thought I'd check Abbie.  I figured it would be a miracle if I actually caught the birth.  I did manage to see Nana give birth to Muffin a couple of years ago, but the births go so quickly I would have to be very lucky to catch it again unless I watched the screen 24/7.

I saw Karen come in with the shovel, which was weird because there was no visible poop.  Then I realized she wasn't cleaning up, she was laying down hay.  I figured this might finally be "it."  This morning she had posted a message saying, "FINALLY something really encouraging! Milk test strips (ph testing) reading 6.0 and to quote the guide 'Mare should foal within 12 hours'! Thick sticky copious liquid! Abbie may actually be planning to HAVE this stinkin' foal! All fingers crossed for alive and healthy, please!"

I watched as she finished spreading the hay around and then went to examine Abbie.  She seemed quite involved in the hindquarters, then it looked like Abbie got down on her front legs with her hindquarters sticking up, at first, and then down on the straw and next thing I knew this black thing began to emerge.  Walt was watching over my shoulder.

The barn cam is not very good quality, so you have to do a lot of imagining, but before long, the colt was finally out.

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At first I was nervous because he didn't seem to be moving, but eventually he was, Karen had backed away and was taking pictures, so I figured everything was OK.

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I swear, the second that baby was out into the world, Abbie's belly deflated like a balloon.  I worried because it seemed to take a long time for Abbie to get up or even turn around and look at her newborn son, and Karen was concentrating on getting the colt cleaned up (of course at this point I didn't know if it was a boy or a girl)

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Then when I went to drain the pasta and came back to the screen, Abbie was standing and while not paying a LOT of attention to the baby, at least seemed interested.

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Eventually, the colt finally got to his feet.

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That hurdle passed, and things obviously going OK, I took some time to check Karen's web page, where a "welcome baby" party was in progress.
Brett was first and wrote, "Finally it's here!!!!!! Is there a harness on it ready to pull??? Lol"
Sarah wrote: "I didn't look away long, last time I clicked on that tab she was walking around and now FOAL!"
Kat asked: "What will I watch at night now?"
Maria wrote: "Yay!!! Abbie popped!!!"
GP King added: "Damn I wish I still used tobacco. I need a cigar!!
It went on and on, everybody so excited about the birth.  When Karen finally got back to the house, she posted the details. "Colt - Appaloosa - black or seal brown- possibly 2 blue eyes... Very strong, pretty head, slightly tangled front legs, easily straightened do delivery wasn't too hard!"   She also said that his barn name is going to be Friday.

I watched for awhile longer and was amazed at how lively Friday was within the first half hour.  He was examining everything in the stall and just looked like he was so happy to be unconfined.  Someone on the board said that it looked like Abbie just wanted to finally go to sleep, but had to watch the baby.
Karen said that it was Abbie's turn to stay awake and her turn to finally get some sleep.

After about an hour or more, I checked back and both horses were finally asleep.  I'm pretty sure Karen and Michael must be sleeping too!

FridaySleeping.jpg (8701 bytes)

And I don't have to take my iPad to bed with me tonight!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Today at Logos

When I got to Logos today, Sandy, back from her long vacation, shared that last week, it was 3 p.m. before she called Susan to ask where I was. Susan had forgotten she was going to cover for me!  Fortunately, Sandy was having a good time anyway.

Things were kind of slow as I set up the iPad I'd brought (to check Abbie, who is, as of this writing, still pregnant). I forgot to bring either my VanGogh book or the Robert Ludlum book I'm also reading.  I also forgot my cell phone. But I could get on the internet with the iPad, which was good.

An old guy came in holding a bargain book and asked if we had music or art books.  I directed him appropriately and he spent a long time browsing, but in the end left with just the $1 bargain book.

A round woman came in asking if we had art history books.  I told her where to look and she asked if we had a public bathroom.  When I said we did not she said "Oh well, I work at the art museum next door; I guess I'll just go there" and left without looking at any books.

Since I had neglected to bring something from home to read, I picked up Mark Twain's "Roughing It in the Sandwich Islands," a very short book but fascinating.  It had pictures at the end of things Twain would have seen when he spent four months in the Sandwich Islands.  I showed them to Walt (who grew up on Oahu) when he picked me up.

I was so absorbed I almost didn't notice severasl customers who came in.  One tall, heavy set man came in with a sylpyhlike woman who came up to about his chest.  The guy shuffled around the shelves for about 25 minutes and ultimately bought nothing, and both of them left.

A woman I had not seen enter popped out of the stacks with copies of "Shakespeare and Me" and "Committed," a book about marriage.

In the meantime, a Sheldon (of Big Bang Theory) geeky type came in wearing a big backpack and a frozen banana t-shirt.  I half expected him to buy something nerdy, but he purchased a copy of "Zorba the Greek" and another similar style book.  He said "whenever I want a book, I always come here."

A woman rushed in the door, went off to the side, and was back in a minute with a sign.  She was buying an 11-volume set of O. Henry books, nicely bound and was SO enthusiastic about it.  She said she loves books -- loves looking at them, loves smelling them, loves reading them.  She assured me that while some might take this set of books home to display on a shelf, she fully intended to read them all.

A woman with a body type like mine, but probably not quite as large came in.  Reminder to self:  don't ever wear shorts out in public!!!  I smiled and said hello, but she ignored me, then came and asked if we had fiction.  I showed here where the fiction books were. She was looking for a book by Nicholas Sparks, didn't find it, and left.

RainbowGirl.jpg (52928 bytes)Rainbow Girl came in next, wearing striped rainbow leggings, a black and white striped short-short skirt and a top with drawings of flowers on it.   She was sneezing.  I thought perhaps it was because of pollen in the flowers in her short.  

She wandered around for a long time and then a husky guy wearing orange shorts and a green shirt, with legs looking like a Gaugin painting came in.   He was apparently a friend of Rainbow girl.
I don't think either of them bought anything, but they were definitely colorful.

While they were there the very tall Mountain Man type who has been in before came in.  He has a very long whilte beard and shoulder length white hair, but he's more a John Muir type than a Santa type.  He always wears a fisherman's type cap and soft jeans.  He was in the back for so long I thought he had left, but he eventually came up with a book of Native American Tales that he had been reading for a long time while he was out of my sight.

A business man with a briefcase came in and in short order had purchased a book of essays.  The cash register decided to jam at this point and it took a long time to ring up his order, but after I had unplugged it and plugged it back in again, all was fine.

Two middle-eastern looking women came in.  The older one was all in basic black with a beautiful rose-colored design and wearing a hijab, but clunky very white athletic shoes with pink soles.  She looked for a long time at the cookbooks and asked if we had books on knitting.  In the meantime the other women, whom I decided must be her daughter, who was dressed like everyone else in Western clothing was looking through the children's room and bought a Thomas the Train book.

A Tall young woman in black leather skinny jeans and jacket (isn't she HOT today??) had two large bags, one on each shoulder. She reminded me of Prentiss on Criminal Minds, but not as severe looking.

Another regular came in.  This is a short, thin guy with a goatee who also wears a fisherman-style hat. He tells me he's an antiquarian.  I remember the very old book he showed me a couple of weeks ago.  Today he bought one of our "old" books (for $6).  He had just purchased a pocket bible printed in the early 1800s.  It was in such teeny print that you could hardly tell that those were words there.  He also showed me a Greek coin from 325 BC.  He was on his way to sell that, since he says he's ready to start divesting himself of some of his collection.  He said he could get about 55% of what he originally paid for this coin (45% for wear and tear).  I don't know how much he paid for it originally, but there was a sign for $1600 on the box.

A guy came in with a bag of children's books to donate.  I   didn't realize how many of them there were until I started looking at titles and realized that they are very thin books. There must have been 50 of them. There was one about a frog playing t-ball, so I pulled that out for Bri.

Another guy came in with two books, plunked them down on the table and said to tell Peter they were from Tom ("but he will probably know that already.")

A girl came in and wherever she stood, she was doing stretching exercises.  Arms, legs, head rolls.  Then she'd move to another spot and stretch some more.  I actually thought she had left because I hadn't seen her in a long time, but I found her reading at the front table.  She asked if we had any dance books, and stretched in front of that bookcase.  She finally left after purchasing "The Art of Pickling."

My friend arrived at 4:45, late for him.  He said he missed me last week.  This week he bought a book of Klimt paintings and, again, gave me correct change.  I think he's doing this deliberately to keep me from being embarrassed by the mistakes I always make trying to make change for him.  I am grateful.
I watched Abbie off and on all afternoon and watched Karen cleaning her stall.

A woman came in with a big donation in a straw basket.  She had three more loads to bring in, but I couldn't help her because I had several people in the store.  Most of the books were the kinds I would read, but I didn't dare look through them.  I suspect most of them will end up on the bargain table, since Peter doesn't have much respect for crime novels.  As she left, she explained that her husband comes in to Logos and indicated that she doesn't usually.

My last customer of the day was a handsome African American woman with dredlocks who rushed in and asked if we had Nelson Mandela's biography, which we did not, so she left right away.

I was surprised when Susan arrived because I didn't realize that it was that late already.  Walt was arriving too, Abbie was still pregnant and it was time to go home and feed the dogs.