Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Limited Choices

I must be getting old (forgive me if I quote my mother!).  I am finding more and more that I am just too sleepy at night to write this journal entry and if I haven't written it earlier in the evening, I am actually writing it early on the day that is is dated.

Last night we went out to dinner with friends, came home to watch Jeopardy and then The Daily Show and then I was just too tired to do anything but go to sleep.

I woke up, as I always do, sometime later, and lay there, as I always do, trying to figure out what time it was and how long I'd been asleep.  I figured it was between 3 and 4 a.m.  If it was 3 a.m., I would try to get back to sleep in the recliner.  If it was 4, I would come into my office and work on this entry.

It was 3:30, so I opted for trying to go back to sleep, but instead I was sitting there trying to figure out what to write here, and also what I wanted to write to my Compassion child, Emmanuella (from Ghana) from whom I had received a letter yesterday.  The two "thinks" were actually kind of connected.

Emmanuella had told me she was reading a book called "The Wicked Stepmother" and was learning a lot from it. I decided to see if I could find it on Amazon--and I did.  It's apparently an Ugandan story about the second wife of a man and her jealousy about the son of the first wife.  The first wife dies and the second wife pretends to be mother to the now motherless boy, but is always trying to make sure her own son comes first in the father's eyes.  She wants to make sure her son will inherit the father's "stuff" when he dies. She finally decides to kill the boy and puts poison in his lunch, but she had given her own son the better lunch, with a bit of meat in it, and he decided to share it with his stepbrother, so the stepmother's son ate the poisoned meal and dies.  Not exactly a pretty story and I wondered what Emmanuella was learning from it, but the book comes with questions after each of the four chapters, which I see could spark some interesting discussions.

I wanted to ask her about her own culture, compared to that of the Ugandan village in the book. For example, are crickets a special treat of children in Ghana, as they are the children of this book.  Is it common for a man to have more than one wife?  Does the village get together to bless new acquisitions, as they do the father's new bicycle, etc.?

Obviously I got the book for my Kindle.  However, it was $3 and I didn't want to read it badly enough to pay for it so when I noticed it was part of the new Kindle Unlimited subscription program I decided to take advantage of the free 30 day policy and joined so I could get "The Wicked Stepmother" for free.  

We had discussed Kindle Unlimited with Jeri and Phil the night before.  You pay $10/month and all of the books you want to read are "free."  The promise is that you can read hundreds of thousands of books under the new program. It's quite controversial because if you read a book from the Unlimited program, Amazon tracks how much of the book you read and only pays authors for the number of pages you actually read, which smacks entirely of Big Brother watching your reading habits.  There has been lots of discussion about that policy on Facebook lately.

But this was a 30 day free trial and would save me $3 in reading "The Wicked Stepmother."
I then got out my list of upcoming books for our book club to check availability under the Unlimited service and discovered that none of those books were available through Unlimited.  I randomly checked the titles of books that I am interested in reading which are not on the book club list and discovered that none of THOSE books are available either.  Not sure quite what the "hundreds of thousands" of books includes, but apparently nothing that I am interested in and nothing current.

So as soon as I have written my letter to Emmanuella to ask her some questions about her feelings about the book, I will end my free trial of Amazon Unlimited because it says in your Unlimited contract that if you opt out of the program they will remove any books you have chosen from your Kindle.

This may be a good program for some, but I personally think it's a terrible program for someone like me and a great program for Amazon to bilk yet more money out of its customers!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sunday Stealing

1. Who was the last person of the opposite sex you laid in a bed with?

2. Where was the last place you went out to eat?
Our anniversary dinner at Osteria Fasulo here in Davis.

3. What was the last alcoholic beverage you consumed?
I had a little bit of champagne yesterday, but not much.

4. Which do you prefer - eyes or lips?
For what?

5. Medicine, fine arts, or law?
Oh fine arts, of course.

6. Best kind of pizza?
Sausage with mushroom (and, if Walt's not having any, onion)

7. Is your bedroom window open?

8. What is in store for your future?
Going to Santa Barbara for 4th of July

9. Who was the last band you saw live?
Preoccupied Pipers.

10. Do you take care of your friends while they are sick?
If it is at all possible.

11. Any historical figures that you envy?
I envy anybody who has given up their comfy lives and gone to work among the poor.  It's something I am too selfish to do.

12. How many songs are on your iTunes?
Oh, lots!  But it's an eclectic mix of show tunes, Christmas music, international music, classical music, etc.

13. What brand of digital camera do you own?
Canon...and there are many things about it I do not like.

14. When was the last time you got a good workout?
For me getting up from my desk and walking into the kitchen classifies as a good workout.

15. Are you experienced?
at what?

16. If you need a new pair of jeans, what store do you go to first?
I haven't had jeans since high school, 60 years ago.

17. Are you a quitter?
Sometimes, I'm ashamed to admit.

18. What are two bands or singers that you will always love?
Judy Garland, John Denver.

19. What of the seven deadly sins are you guilty of?
Gluttony and Sloth.

20. Did you just have to google the seven deadly sins to see what they were?
No...I read it on Blue Country Magic!
INTERESTINGLY:  One year ago, I also did a Sunday Sealing on this date.  In reading over it, I found this question and answer:

Change one law in your country, which would you change?
Make same gender marriage irrevocably legal in all states.
Well, got THAT wish, at least!!!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2015


There was a moment yesterday.  Nothing special was happening.  We had finished dinner and were eating cake and I looked down the long table at all these people I love so much and thought how much Walt and I are blessed to have them all in our lives...and then had a bit of a tear when I looked at the portraits of Paul and Dave on the wall behind them and wished they were here to share the joy and the love.

We could not possibly have had a better, or more fun, or more joyous, or loving anniversary celebration.  Ned and Marta arrived around 11 to finish cleaning house (it will take me months before I find everything again!!)  Walt went to the train station to pick up Jeri and Phil, who were exhausted from taking the red eye from Boston and getting very little sleep, so they headed upstairs to take a nap so they could be in party mode.

Char arrived, Norm (Walt's brother) and Olivia arrived, Jeri and Phil (when they woke up) picked my mother up, and Tom et al. eventually arrived.  We sat around visiting.

Polly was a pain in the butt most of the day and actually bit Lacie in the hand (which I didn't realize until this morning, after they'd left; I knew Lacie hurt her hand, but didn't realize it was because of Polly)

Bri had brought a box of art work and her "portfolio" from her week in an art class and described things to each person, in turn.

Ned achieved the goal he wanted to achieve...he climbed the tree in our front yard with Bri.  (It reminded me of when my father waited for so long to be able to take little Jeri to the Swensons Ice Cream store near our house and buy her an ice cream cone)

Meanwhile Uncle Norm worked a puzzle with Lacie, who loves puzzles

We continued to visit while Tom and Ned prepared our "surf and turf" dinner.  Ned made a tri-tip roast


while Marta and Lacie worked on reading, writing, and drawing.

And Tom took care of the "surf"...

Of course there was cake

After dinner everyone made a toast (each of which ended with a cheer)

And then, because this is a musical family, the evening could not end without music and dancing.

Tom and Laurel had brought a dog, Bandit, for whom they are dog-sitting, with them and things were kind of rocky among the four dogs at the end of the day, so rather than write this journal entry last night, I went to sleep in my recliner, where I could play referee, if necessary, but all four settled down right away and slept all night.

I could not possibly have asked for a better way to celebrate our anniversary, except if we could have somehow had David and Paul here with us.

Thanks EVERYBODY who made it such a special day!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2015


We went out for a wonderful anniversary dinner last night, at a little restaurant called Osterio Fasula, kind of hidden away in far West Davis.  It could not have been a better meal.  We started with asparagus salad (for Walt) and aspragus soup (for me).  It was kind of a green dinner.

That was followed by a fabulous gnocci pesto.

We sat and chatted about memories of our 50 years, and how the world had changed since we were first married. 

Our waitress was wonderful, chatty, and when dinner was over, she gave us samples of their house made ...cello. She said it was like lemoncello, but they make it with seasonal fruits grown on the grounds.  Tonight's was kiwicello and it was delicious.

And then, because it was our anniversary, she fixed us a special crepe to share.  It had a berry cream with a berry coulis and a mound of whipped cream. The perfect end, nice and light but not too much.

While we were out having this delicious dinner, Ned and Marta were at our house cleaning.  Ned is determined to give me half of what I always ask for -- world peace and a clean house.  He came Thursday night, descending like the White Tornado, saying he was going to be "ruthless," determined to make this a beautiful house in time for today's family gathering.  And he did.  He ran up and downstairs with boxes, and, with Walt's help, dusted, vacuumed and did everything he could to transform the place.

At the end of the day, it was clear that the job had not been finished, so he returned with Marta and they worked for several hours.  He will be back this morning to do the final moving of furniture so that we can all visit together in the living room, and seat 14 people for the surf and turf dinner he and Tom are preparing.  I am humbled by all this work and so grateful to Ned and Marta for all their work
Jeri and Phil will be here around noon; they flew into Oakland last night and are taking the train to Davis.

This has been (so far) a wonderful, loving 50th anniversary and it will only get better later today.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Today at Logos

Sandy and I had a long chat about Charleston and the depressing state of things in this country.  While we were talking a guy came in with his daughters and after time in the kids' room, they bought four books, for which he paid with a $100 bill, totally wiping me out of all change, fortunately it ended up not being a problem.  We always check large bills like that, to avoid counterfeit money, and I was happy that his was OK.

A guy who looked like a farmer came in, with dirt under his fingers and rumpled clothes. But the baseball cap he was wearing was from Cal Tech and he joined in our discussion about Rachel Maddow and world affairs and then went on to talk about author Wallace Stegner and how he had seen him at Stanford.  He and Sandy both talked about Stegner's influence on other authors.  Obviously I had wrongly judged a book by his cover!

A woman came in looking for "Unbroken" and was unable to find it in the biography section, so left.  An hour or so later, I passed by the adventure shelves and found it there. Too late, unfortunately. 

A guy came in and asked if he was in the middle of "famous downtown Davis."  He bought 2 bargain books, but we talked about small towns and he said they were "breeding grounds for Republicans."  I told him I didn't think that was quite true about Davis and that we were more liberal here.  He then asked for directions to a bank, which was two left turns from Logos and we laughed about everything in town being "left."  As he walked out of the store, I noticed he had an keychain with an Australia map hanging from the back of his backpack.

A chatty man didn't buy anything but wanted to chat about books.  He asked me what kind of books I liked and recommended Gillian Flynn's novel, "Sharp Objects," which he said was as good as "Gone Girl."

A guy who could have been the younger brother to scenic designer John Iacovelli, with lighter hair (in a pony tail) and a scruffier beard was looking through the fantasy section, but left without buying anything.

A lovely woman came in wearing a shirt with a logo that said "FSM" on it.  It intrigued me because in my day, FSM stood for the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley.

She explained that it stood for "Flying Spaghetti Monster" and told me about the movement, which I later checked on Wikipedia:

The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism (a portmanteau of "pasta" and "Rastafarian"), a social movement that promotes a light-hearted view of religion and opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools. Although adherents describe Pastafarianism as a genuine religion, it is generally seen by the media as a parody religion.

She said she had to be careful where she wears the shirt, but is comfortable wearing it in Davis.  ('Cause, as we discussed earlier, we are all "lefties," dontcha know")

She was looking for books by P.G. Wodehouse and came across a first edition, "Shibumi" by "Trevanian," the pen name of American film scholar Rodney Whitaker, who wrote several novels under the name Trevanian.  She was thrilled with her find and also happy to find several Wodehouse books.  A good day for her!

A trio of young women arrived, one in a sun dress, one in shorts, and one, unbelievably in a long black skirt and pink sweater (it was >100 degrees today).  The girl in the black skirt kept lifting it up above her knees and fanning her legs with it.  There were lots of giggles as they checked out the contemporary fiction shelves and finally the woman in the shorts bought one and the three left, still giggling.

A couple came in, this woman also in a long dress, but it was a sun dress in a very pretty floral pattern that had slits up both sides almost to her hips.  She also wore a straw hat and looked as cool as one can on a day like today.  Her male companion had tan cargo pants with vertical stripes and a light blue shirt with horizontal stripes.  He also had a 5:00 shadow.  They checked Sci Fi for awhile and then left.
Another group of 4 women arrived, 3 in skirts and one in pedal pushers with tall flip flops (the soles were about 1" thick).  One of the group was pregnant and was looking for a children's book called "Fox Eyes" while one of her friends wanted "Panda in the Paintbox."  It is amazing to me how many people come into a used book store and expect us to have all of the inventory on computer so we can immediately check for availability of books. I wonder if they have the same expectation of the Green Apple Bookstore in San Francisco, which is about three times the size of Logos.

Part of the fun of a used book store is the discovery...like finding a first edition of a book by Trevanian, for example!

My friend was one of my last customers, at 5 p.m.  He didn't find anything he wanted so left, but later when I went to pick up a pizza for dinner, I ran into him at the pizza place.

There were no customers between 5 and 6.  It was not a super busy day today, because of the heat, I'm sure, but still I had more interesting customers than I do many days.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Nannie's Horses

I engaged in something that I rarely do yesterday.

It's something most people do every day.

Walt does a lot of it.

I did some housecleaning...and it about did me in.

See, we are having this little gathering here on Saturday.  Tomorrow Walt and I are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary (where did the time go?) and the kids decided they wanted to have a party.
But where?  These days when we get together socially, it's at Atria because it's easier for my mother, but that wasn't going to work for this party.  But my mother doesn't do well in restaurants...well, she's OK, but she's uncomfortable...so they decided we would get together here and that Tom and Ned would cook dinner for us.

It's just a small group, just the family.  Walt and me; Ned and Marta; Tom, Laurel and the girls, my mother and Walt's brother and his wife.  Then Ned said he didn't believe in keeping secrets so he let us know that Jeri and Phil are going to fly out and be here too.  And because she's family as well, Charlotte is coming.

(This is a huge deal because Brianna and Lacie have never been inside this house and I'm having grandma performance anxiety.)

It's not that these people have never been inside my house and don't know that I am a terrible housekeeper, though since Walt has been doing so much housekeeping, he house is better than it has been in a long time.  Ned, bless him, said he would come over today and help clean up.  But I've always said I would have to clean for two days to get the house to a point where I could apologize for how messy it is.

A HUGE part of cleaning up is dusting the etageres.  These are two glass and brass shelving units that Gilbert bought shortly before he died.  I was so proud of those things and I felt so strongly that I wanted to take care of them for him after he died.  So they stand in the dining part of our living room and they hold all of the tsatskes that either we have collected on our travels or that people have given to us.  To dust it all takes 45-60 minutes, so it doesn't get done that often, but really needed it now.  When it's finished, the room doesn't look different at all, but I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment to know that everything is dusted and on dusted glass shelves.

I set up a speaker so I could listen to my Amazon book and then I brought in my little desk fan because it was warm.  Even with that, I had sweat pouring off of me as I worked on the shelves.  

I had to do things in small increments because my back starts to give out after awhile.  Even sitting in a chair as much as I could while I cleaned still ended up with my having to take a break every now and then.

As I cleaned I was thinking about having the girls here and what a temptation all these cute little things on these open shelves would be for them.  I have thought about this before.  How to "baby proof" the etageres so I wouldn't have to worry about them.

Then I thought back to my paternal grandmother and the times we spent at her house (very, very often).  She had a little shelf on which she kept a collection of miniature horses.  They weren't necessarily fancy or expensive...I seem to recall a couple of them were even made of plastic.  But they were very special to her (and it bothers me that when she finally moved out of her apartment they just disappeared...I never got the chance to ask for them).  But the rule was "look, but don't touch."

I was a horse crazed kid and I would spend a lot of time sitting on the floor looking at those horses and imagining playing with them, my grandmother yelling at me if I tried to touch them.  She was so afraid I'd break them.  To this day, I am sorry that I never had the chance to play with them.

And as I dusted all this stuff on the etagere I thought about the girls being drawn to it and wanting to investigate and realized that there is nothing on those shelves that is so special that I would be upset if it got broken, and what fun it would be to share those little animals and figures with them.  So I'm not worrying about it.  If they want to play with anything on those shelves, I will smile and be happy that they are getting to do what I always wanted to do and never could.

I didn't get a lot more done than just the etagere, but I did get that much done but it feels as if I cleaned house all day.  And I don't have to do it again for a long time....

Now I just have to worry about the dogs who use the house for their bathroom, and what to do about puddle pads, and whether or not our dogs will get along with the dog Tom and Laurel are bringing with them.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


It was a surreal experience going to review Big River last night. 
This is the musical version of Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn," with book by William Hauptman and music and lyrics by Roger Miller.  It's a beautiful musical, but seeing it during a week when we are all still processing the slaughter in Charleston, when that event has sparked lively debate about the Confederate flag and the "n word" was just very weird.

The musical is set, time-wise, before the Civil War, when slavery was alive and well in the South and the friendship between Huck and the runaway slave, Jim is an unusual one.

But the scenes which depict slavery in all of its ugliness were very raw and had a profound emotional effect on me.  And, based on the sudden applause that erupted from the audience when Jim is given his freedom and the shackles are removed from his wrists, I suspect many in the audience was having the same reaction.

I have had such difficulty wrapping my head around yet another senseless killing, which the NRA immediately explained away as the fault of the victims, because if they had brought guns to church for their bible study meeting, this tragedy could have been avoided.

Fox, at the same time was quick to point out that the act of this young man who told everyone he "wanted to kill black people" and start another race war was not a hate crime at all, but more proof of the war against Christianity.

Jon Stewart made perhaps the most eloquent statement by dropping his comedy and speaking from the heart about how impotent he feels to do anything about what is happening all too often in this country.  His guest that night was Malala Yousafzai, the young Nobel Prize winner, who is wise beyond her years.  She said,“Sometimes we wait for others and think that Martin Luther should raise among us, Nelson Mandela should raise up among us and speak up for us, but we never realize they are normal humans like us -- and if we step forward we can also bring change just like them."

It is incumbent on all of us to speak out against violence, to express our frustration and our anger, to write to our Congresscritters with our concerns.  If we sit back and shake our head and do nothing, we are in some small way contributing to a country that seems to be spinning out of control.

My friend Kari recently wrote, "People are killing beautiful people. That is what’s happening. And we don’t care enough as a society to do anything about it. We could. But we don’t. Can’t, won’t. I don’t know. NRA. Money. Power. Votes.

"We’d surely have addressed the gun issue if we, as a country, had cared enough after the massacre of 20 little kids in their classroom.

The majority of people don’t care enough about race or guns.

There is no hope for this country. We are in denial about race. We are soul crushingly stupid when it comes to guns. And our leaders can’t have opinions that aren’t market tested.

We are seriously doomed."

I hope not, but I sure don't know what it's going to take to turn this around.  If killing children in Sandy Hook didn't do it, and killing people in a church in Charleston didn't do it and all of the senseless killings by gunmen and police officers that have taken place in between didn't do it, what will?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Catastrophe Day

The morning started taking Sheila to the vet.  Her back leg was swollen and she had some lumps I'd found.  She also needed an annual exam (about 2 years late).  She has been panting a lot lately, which I figured was at least partly caused by the rising temperatures lately.

She's such a perfect dog to take anywhere.  She loves sitting in the back seat and looking out the window.  I usually open the window a crack and she sticks her nose out.  Today, she was happy to just sit there and look--didn't get up to stick her nose out the widow.  I attributed it to the bum leg.  And she loves everybody.  That stump of a tail just wagged a mile a minute whenever anybody came into the vet's waiting room.

She weighs 51 lbs, up about 5 lbs from last time she was weighed.  Then the doctor looked at her leg and said he would give me some antibiotics and see if that helped.

Then he checked the lumps I'd noted and asked if he could take some aspirates and see if he could figure out what was going on.  He listed a few possibilities, the last of which was "lymphoma" (why does nobody say "cancer" any more?  Is lymphoma a less painful word to use?).  But he was encouraging because he said that if it was lymphoma, we had caught it early.  This was a good thing.

He took the samples and said that he would call me later, and if I had not heard from him by 5 p.m., to give him a call.  He also told me he always reads my reviews.

The word "lymphoma" hung heavy in my head and I decided to take Sheila to Jack in the Box to share a cheeseburger with her.  She ate half of it and I was going to split the second half with her, but she wasn't interested.

We came home to wait for the call.  At 5 p.m., I called him.  I could tell just by the way he said "hello" that the news was not good.  "It's lymphoma," he said, "...and we're probably talking weeks..."  Weeks?  What happened to "lucky that we caught it early" ??  So now there are decisions to be made.  We've decided against chemo, which would be around $2,500, which, much as we love her, seems extravagant for a 12-13 year old dog.  We're going to start Prednisone and see if that will slow things down.  Ashley tells me there are lymphoma trials at the vet school, but they seem to involve week-long stays there and injections and tests.  If Sheila is in her last weeks, I don't want her to spend them confused about why we've sent her to some place where she has to live in a cage and be hurt regularly.

Needless to say I'm a bit emotional right now, which may explain the second catastrophe of the day...distracted brain function.  I baked chicken thighs for dinner and when it came time to get them out of the oven, the pan they were in kind of tilted, spilling a whole bunch juice on the oven floor.
Thinking I would take care of it right away,  turned on the self-clean oven feature.  In a matter of seconds, there was thick smoke pouring out of the top of the stove, every room was filled with smoke, and every smoke alarm was going off (this lasted for half an hour and not a single neighbor came to check on us!)  

This is after about 20 minutes, when the smoke was starting to clear...
I didn't get the real dramatic scenes!

Walt had every fan we have blowing, and I tried to turn off the cleaning feature, but the smoke was so thick that I couldn't see the controls on top of the stove to find the right button (but I sure did get a taste of what it must be like to die of smoke inhalation!)

I was finally able to turn off the self-cleaning feature, but then I discovered that there was a fire in the oven.

I thought the liquid was on fire but after the oven door finally unlocked, Walt discovered a charred chicken thigh that had burned to a crisp.

The house was so smoky, we couldn't eat inside, so decided to eat on the patio.  Sheila, uncharacteristically, was sleeping somewhere and not begging for food.  

I feel like shit.  I love this dog.  She's the first dog we've ever had who is really mine more than anyone else's.  They are all ours, of course, but Sheila was mine first.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Celebrating Dads

It was a busy day, only some of which celebrated Fathers day.

Walt went off to Mass while I boiled up a mess of eggs for stuffed eggs later.  When he got home, I made him blueberry waffles (from scratch -- woohoo!).

Then I set to work making the stuffing for a dozen and a half hard boiled eggs.  Usually I use mayonnaise and garlic powder, but when I did that last time it was way too salty, so this time I used mayonnaise and a tiny bit of cumin, which I decided I liked very much.  It added just enough flavor that it tasted different, but you might not be able to put your finger on why.  Everyone seemed to enjoy them.

Then there was another fruit salad to make, using the fruit left over from Al's birthday party of the day before (minus blueberries, which went into the waffles).  I had watched Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman on the Food Network make a fruit salad, to which she added a bit of a syrup which coated the fruit and made it look pretty, so I decided to try that, boiling up sugar and water along with the rind of an orange and the juice of half of it.
It did add a nice flavor to the salad, but as I poured it over, I was reminded that Drummond lives in Oklahoma, which may be one of those states that don't get the flavorful fruits that we have here and wondered if maybe I was gilding the lily.  But no matter.  It tasted good.

Then it was time to finish folding my mother's laundry and get it over to her before she is forced to go commando around Atria.  Sunday afternoon must be the time to go.  There was TONS of parking.  3 slots in the Atria guest parking area (where there is usually nothing), and lots of on-street parking.  Walt pointed out that the UCD students are also on break so that might account for all that wonderful parking space.

My mother is looking more and more tired.  She's old, you know :)  But she really is seeming it these days.  Today she said she felt "strange" and couldn't describe how she felt, but that it was different.  I have the feeling that I'm starting to watch her fading away.

After I got home from Atria, Walt and I gathered up the stuffed eggs and fruit salad and headed over to Marta's step-sister Lindsay's home, where they were having a gathering of all the dads in the family.  Lindsay's sister was there with her daughter Alexis, almost 2, who was one of the cutest toddlers ever.

(with Lindsay's daughter, Isabella)
There was a nice barbeque dinner and then everyone gathered in front of the house to take the Dads group photo.  

As I sat there I discovered I was sitting under a rare Davis shoe tree.

We said our goodbyes and came home and now, in the middle of the night, I'm trying to finish off a review I started this afternoon, and didn't complete.

In the morning I must get Sheila to the vet's because her leg is very swollen and she's having difficulty walking.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Al turned 100 today.

His birthday started in the hospital, where he was admitted on Thursday for an intestinal infection, and ended at a party for about 20 relatives and friends, some of whom had flown in from across the country.
When we left the party, it was still going strong, and Al was trying to sleep on the couch in the middle of it, his stamina finally having given up.

Al can sleep in the middle of a party, even a loud one, because he's totally deaf.  He went deaf in his youth, while working in the steamroom of a ship.  When Walt first met him, at his first job when he moved out to California after college graduation, he wore a hearing aid and it was possible, though not easy, to have a conversation with him, but over the years the hearing aids worked less and less and finally he gave up and stopped wearing them.  He can speak, but the older he gets the less clarity he has.

(Al was at our wedding, a high mass with a violin quartet and gorgeous music.  Al knew nothing about the Catholic church and couldn't hear the music and his comment to Walt after it was over was "it certainly was long!")

He continued to work with Walt until 1983, when he finally retired.  Shortly after that, his wife, who had suffered from something like chronic fatigue syndrome for many years, died, leaving Al alone in their house.

The house behind his was (and still is) owned by the guy who was his last boss (also now retired), and he and his wife, and another co-worker and her husband, have taken on the care of Al for many years now.  He recently moved into a retirement community similar to Atria.

This is a photo of the former co-workers.

This is the kind of party that I usually hate.  I cringe when I know I'm going to a party where I will know almost no one, but this one was absolutely delightful.  Those people from the middle part of the country are so friendly and so gracious that it took no time at all before I felt like one of the group. (Now why can't I be that way when encountering people I don't know??)

There was a delicious barbeque dinner and the hostess had asked me to bring a fruit salad.  I went out to our little fruit stand, just a couple of miles outside of Davis, and bought a whole bunch of fresh fruits -- strawberries, watermelon, canteloupe, cherries -- and then added bananas, which we had here, and a can of pineapple.  Run of the mill salad, I thought, until those folks from North Dakota and Minnesota raved about it because they can't get the kind of fresh, flavorful fruit that we can here.  I remembered when I visited my friend Olivia in Idaho and she took me to the supermarket and scoffed at the pathetic choices for fruits there.  I guess I don't often appreciate what we have, literally in our own back yard!

Dessert was a quasi strawberry shortcake with just about a vat of fresh strawberries cut up, so full of flavor, a nice complement to my fruit salad!

But Al has now been feted in grand style and I was so pleased to have been there this afternoon. Truly!  (and I don't usually say that about parties) 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Saturday 9

Welcome to Saturday: 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!

Saturday 9: Daddy's Little Man (1969)
... because it's Father's Day weekend
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is about an afternoon visit between a father and son. What are your plans for Saturday afternoon?
We're going to a birthday party for a a former co-worker of Walt's, who is turning 100.

2) The lyrics talk about enjoying an ice cream cone. Do you have any ice cream in your freezer right now?
Yes. Haagen Dazs mini ice cream bars.

3) Sam's father hates it when she swears. When is the last time you cursed?
A few minutes ago, when the remote to the TV wasn't working right.

4) In a recent ranking of movie dads, Mufasa (Lion King) and Atticus (To Kill a Mockingbird) got very high marks. Who is your favorite movie or TV father?
Spencer Tracy in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

5) Sam's own father often traveled for business, and always remembered to bring her the little complimentary soaps, shampoos or body lotion he got from the hotel. When you take a trip, do you bring back souvenirs?
Yes, but not a lot.  Usually postcards and refrigerator magnets.

6) Back when Sam was in high school, it was her father who gave her driving lessons. Who taught you how to drive?
My father.  He was far more strict than the guy who gave me my driving test at the DMV.

7) Sam's own father is easy to buy for: every year he wants a new pair of loafers, so every year for Father's Day she gives him a DSW gift card. Would you rather receive a gift that someone chose, even though it might not be just right, or do you prefer a gift card or cash so you can get exactly what you want?
There's not really anything I want and a gift that someone chose for me is very special.

8) For family barbecues, Sam's dad dons his "Kiss the Chef" apron and mans the Weber. What's the last thing you cooked on the grill?
It's been years. Perhaps decades, but it would have been either hamburger or chicken, since that's about all we ever cooked on the grill.

9) Sam's father satisfies his afternoon sugar craving with an almost endless stream of Butter Rum Lifesavers. When you crave a snack, do you usually want something sweet or salty?
Usually something salty.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Today at Logos

I almost didn't make it to Logos today, thanks to having lunch at Atria.  First, I sat with my mother for about 20 minutes and decided she'd been taking lessons from Henry Higgins.  Remember, he tells Eliza, when he's ready to take her to Ascot, to stick to two subjects:  the weather and her health.  We went back and forth from "is it hot outside?" to "I'm old, Bev" and then "I know it's hot because no leaves are moving on the trees," to "will I live to be hunnert?" to "now a leaf is moving so it must be a little cooler."  And on and on and on.

Then we went to what I can only call the worst lunch I've ever had at Atria.  First, we sat with a woman who is so deaf she can't hear what you shout at her, and a woman for whom English is not her first language, so there wasn't much conversation except my mother surely asked me 25 times what I was doing this afternoon.  Once she asked if she and I were doing something together this afternoon.

But lunch was a patty melt, something I like, except the bread for this was as hard as a crostini, the meat was just warm, and if that pale yellow thing on top of the meat was Swiss cheese, you couldn't prove it by me.  The bread was soaked in some sort of oil or butter and then it tasted like it had been sitting in the warming oven for hours.  I only ate half of mine (and I only had half a sandwich to begin with).  Then there was a cherry pie which I should not have finished because it was gooey and too sweet even for me.  By the time I got home, I was having terrible stomach cramps and if it had not been 40 minutes before my shift started at Logos, I would have called Susan and told her I couldn't work.

But I laid down on the couch for half an hour and felt more human when I got up.  Sandy told me I looked very pale.  But she stayed for about 40 minutes and we had a lovely chat about Atria (where her father died), the Davis schools, books, and the landscaping they have been doing to their home, which is now finished.  

Four customers came and purchased books while we were talking.  One woman bought 2 biographies, one of the Wright Brothers.  It was not the new book by David McCullough but she and Sandy discussed that book too.  One woman bought 2 contemporary fiction books, one from the literature shelves, and her male companion bought a children's book.  A woman bought 1 bargain book and 6 science fiction books.  She and Sandy discussed other authors.

I asked Sandy if she had read "The Goldfinch" and, like me, she has it on her Kindle but hasn't read it (I had it on my Kindle for 2 yrs before I read it).  She recommended "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr, which I mention here just so I won't forget the title when/if I decide to read it after I read the other hundred books waiting for me!  She also mentioned a book called "Geek Love," which sounds so strange I may have to put it on my "to be read" list.

Before she left I told her how frustrating it is for me when people come up with stacks of books and place them on the desk as far away from me as possible.  She said she noticed that too.  We thought maybe if we moved the bowl that the free bookmarks are in, people would then put the books down closer to us. So we did.

Sandy left and within seconds a woman with an armload of books came to the desk, moved the bookmark bowl out of the way, and stuck the books so far away from me I could hardy reach them.  So much for that idea!

The next customer was a woman who bought a dictionary for her daughter, who is starting to play on-line Scrabble, a book of Indian essays, and a book of photos of Wegman puppies.

A very tall stooped older man wearing a Cal Tech hat had 4 bargain books and then bought 4 more books by Wallace Stegner, one of the authors Sandy had recommended to the woman with whom she was discussing books.  

A guy with a Blood Source sticker and his arm wrapped up like they do after you give blood came in and that was good because I had forgotten I have an appointment to give blood at 10 a.m. tomorrow.  I thanked him.  He bought a Ray Bradbury book and a coffee table type book on Tolkien's world.

What with my stomach pains and general malaise when I left home, I had forgotten my bag in which I bring a cold bottle of water each week, so I took a quick drink of tap water because I was so thirsty and remembered why I hate Davis water.

A geeky couple came in and checked Fantasy, Sci Fi, music, and theater and asked if we had an astrology section  Then they left without buying anything.

A middle aged woman wearing a rosary as a necklace checked travel books and asked for something that I could not understand, even though she repeated it three times, each time softer (I guess figuring that the lower she talked the better I could hear!  I find this is what happens with a lot of customers who come up to talk with me.  If I can't understand them, they repeat, softer.)  I did get that it appeared to be a contemporary fiction book, so I directed her to that section, but she left empty handed.

At 4:44, I wrote the following in my notes:

My friend arrived right at 5 p.m. and bought a book of Victorian fairy tales (which I noted later that I had marked on the sale sheet as "fairy tails")

A guy who looked like Michael J. Fox, circa Family Ties but with a huge cowlick.  He was dressed in a white shirt that was pressed so that it almost looked like a dress shirt, and then sky blue shorts.  Neither he nor his girlfriend bought anything.

My last client of the day was wearing a Harvard Lacrosse t-shirt, but he didn't buy anything either.

Walt and Peter arrived.  Peter took over, and I was happy to find a bottle of water in the car.  I was very thirsty!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

People Without a Country

June 18, 2015

That's Leniel on the left.  I've been writing to him for several years.  And the girl with the attitude is Banesa, I've been writing to her for several years  too.  They both live in the Dominican Republic. I don't have a clue what hell, if any, they and their families are going through this week.

While we've been rolling our eyes at the words of Donald Trump, debating whether Rachel Dolezal is black or white, and talking endlessly about Caitlyn Jenner, these two children, their families and possibly hundreds of thousands like them may be in the process of being deported, becoming people without a country.  And even Compassion doesn't know who among the children they serve will be affected.

I've hardly heard anything about this on the major news programs.

If the order (which was to have taken effect today) begins to be enforced about a quarter of a million people will be made stateless. They will have no homes, no passports, and no civil rights.

At issue is a ruling by the Constitutional Court in the Dominican Republic to strip away the citizenship of several generations of Dominicans.

Dominican officials say anyone lacking identity documents or who has not registered for a so-called "regularization" program before the Wednesday night deadline could face deportation. The affects hundreds of thousands of Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Hatian descent.

According to the decision, Dominicans born after 1929 to parents who are not of Dominican ancestry are to have their citizenship revoked. The ruling affects an estimated 250,000 Dominican people of Haitian descent, including many who have had no personal connection with Haiti for several generations.

The Dominican government says the changes to its nationality and immigration laws aim to tackle illegal migration from neighboring Haiti. Human rights groups say the move is rooted in longstanding racism and xenophobia in the Dominican Republic towards darker-skinned Haitians.

Over the last century an untold number of Haitians have crossed into the more prosperous Dominican Republic to escape political violence or seek a better life (or a home, after the earthquake five years ago), many working as sugar cane cutters, house cleaners or babysitters.

Human rights groups say the new law could impact hundreds of thousands of these migrants and a smaller number of Dominican-born people of Haitian descent who lost citizenship after a constitutional court ruling in 2013 that has faced international criticism.

That ruling reversed the right of citizenship for foreigners born in the Dominican Republic, stripping children of Haitian migrants of their Dominican nationality, human rights groups say.

The Dominican army has 2,000 troops ready to help coordinate the removal of people who fail to meet legal requirements to remain in the country. Four "Welcome Centers" are being set up to receive undocumented people, the government said.

Local media have reported the government has dozens of buses on standby to transport undocumented people to the Haiti border.

There is no official data on how many Dominicans of Haitian descent are in the country, human rights groups say, as many never obtained documents with the civil registry. Less than 9,000 have been able to register under a separate naturalization program which expired in February, according to Human Rights Watch.

Amnesty International said it was concerned many Dominican-born people with a legitimate right to stay could be removed because they lack documentation.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Goldfinch

The reading selection for my new book club was Donna Tartt's "The Goldfinch," a hefty 775 page book which I'd been reading for the month.  I had a little over 100 pages to go on Monday and read until I couldn't stay awake any more, so went to sleep.

When I woke up at 5, instead of going back to sleep I started reading again and finally finished the book (rushing through the last pages) by 7 a.m., which was just in the neck of time, since I had to leave for Char's house and the book club meeting around 11.

It's an odd book and what I said in my review of it was that I had a love-hate relationship with it, since it seemed almost like it was four different books and there were sections I hated and sections where the writing was so beautiful, I reveled in it, much as I do with Steinbeck or with Pat Conroy's "Prince of Tides."

The story is about a painting by Dutch artist Carel Fabritus, who painted it in 1654.  It hangs in the Mauritshuis museum in the Hague.  In the book, young Theo is visiting the Metropolitan Museum (in New York) for an exhibit of Dutch Masters when there is an explosion that kills his mother.  Theo survives and in escaping the museum, he takes with him the small painting (it is about the size of a piece of typing paper).  He's not sure why he takes it, but his mother loved the painting and it is his connection to her.

Interestingly, I discovered that while I knew this was the last painting Fabritus did, I didn't realize that he was killed in an explosion.  I'm sure this must have inspired the author when she started working out her plot for the book.

It's an odd painting for us since it shows a goldfinch chained to a post by a little chain around its leg.  Apparently keeping finches as pets like this was popular in the 1600s.  

It was so much fun having a group of people to discuss this book with, since everyone had such interesting things to add. It's a book about damaged people and how they cope with life.  Sadly, much of the coping has to do with drugs...massive amounts of drugs...and I did get tired of the drug taking, which dominates one section of the book and is very much a part of the rest of it.  Two people in the book group hated that so much they didn't finish the book.  But I'm glad I stuck with it to the end because there was a fairly satisfying resolution.

I think I'm going to enjoy this group since I love discussing books and it's nice to find a group of people who enjoy discussing them too.

Of course I'm kind of an interloper in the group, since it is run through the San Ramon public library and technically I'm supposed to be a resident of San Ramon to attend.  In fact, when the leader asked for my email address yesterday, I gave her my gmail account rather than my Davis account.  Char says she's going to let her know that I'm really not from San Ramon but doesn't think she will care, especially now that I've been there for two meetings.

On the ride home, I had my Harlan Coben book to listen to, which was good because there was bumper to bumper traffic for a good part of the trip and audio books always make times like that much more palatable!

I really don't know what people do without books.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Need More Birthdays

We went back to San Rafael for lunch again today and I decided we are desperately in need of more birthdays! This time we were to be celebrating the two women who have June birthdays.

The last time we were scheduled to go to San Rafael for lunch, my mother told me she was feeling dizzy and didn't want to leave Atria.  Since she has been more adamant about not leaving Atria and nervous when we are out (the last time was Mothers Day) that I wasn't sure if she was really dizzy or if she just didn't want to go.
I prepared her for this lunch again, putting it on her calendar and talking about it everyday I was there to visit with her (each time, of course, she hadn't remembered it and got the "you say it's on my calendar but I don't have to look at my calendar if I don't want to..." look on her face.

This morning I called her to remind her I would be picking her up in an hour and she didn't ask why..just said she would be ready.  And, unlike last time, when I got there, she was ready and knew we were going "somewhere" but couldn't remember where.

Whatever.  It was better than last time.

The drive down was the same, explaining over and over again where we were going and who was going to be there, interspersed with comments about how beautiful the trees were and what a shame it was that the grass is all dead looking.  Same ol' same ol'.

We were eating at Arriverderci again.

It's really a lovely Italian restaurant in San Rafael and so far everything I've had there has been wonderful.

We encountered almost no traffic, so we arrived early but I knew we had a reservation and that, the weather being perfect, we were sitting on the patio.

As the waiter was walking us to the table to wait for the others, I ordered my mother a vodka and tonic (she actually had 2 over the course of the lunch, which maybe helped!)

As I watched her joke and laugh and reminisce with her friends, the ones she wasn't sure she would remember when she saw them, I realized that this kind of mental stimulation is so good for her.  Really, she gets zero mental stimulation...and refuses to consider anything.  She won't join in any activities, she can't remember how to get upstairs where the puzzles now are, I've given up her actually making friends at Atria--the memory is just too bad for that, though she finally has people she recognizes and enjoys at mealtimes.  It takes coercing to get her to leave Atria for anything.  And even if you can get her to leave, her back pain (which she won't take a pain pill for) makes it difficult for her to move much.

She says she reads the paper, which she has done cover to cover her whole life, but if there is any tragedy or triumph in the world, or a win by the Giants or 49ers, she doesn't remember reading it.  I sure don't now how to stimulate a brain that refuses to be stimulated.

Still, this was as "with it" as I have seen her since February, when we last went to one of these lunches.  Next one is scheduled for September, this time to celebrate my mother's birthday.

Getting back in the car, I plugged in my 40s playlist again, since it had been such a success last time.  And this woman, who sometimes doesn't remember she has great grandchildren and never remembers their name, sang every word to every bloody song for the hour and a half drive home.  Music does amazing things to brain function.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sunday Stealing

  1. Would you rather go to a movie or to dinner alone?
    Is that "a movie alone" and "dinner alone"?  Not sure.  Probably the movie
  2. Would you rather always say everything on your mind or never speak again?
    Never speak again.
  3. Would you rather make a phone call or send a text?
    Send a text.  I'm out of practice on the phone...and I can be more clever in a text!
  4. Would you rather read an awesome book or watch a good movie?
    Read an awesome book (though I would probably watch the movie instead!)
  5. Would you rather be the most popular person at work or school or the smartest?
    Probably the smartest.  'Cause the smartest people would make fun of the popular people....except me, of course, because I would be too polite.
  6. Would you rather put a stop to war or end world hunger?
    I think if you could end world hunger it would go a long way toward stopping wars.
  7. Would you rather spend the night in a luxury hotel room or camping surrounded by beautiful scenery?
    Hands down, the hotel (assuming it had wifi...but then camping definitely would not have wifi...)
  8. Would you rather explore space or the ocean?
    Space holds no fascination for me, and I love the ocean, so that's a no brainer.
  9. Would you rather go deep sea diving or bungee jumping?
    Well, both give me the creeps, but I would definitely prefer deep sea diving over bungee jumping.
  10. Would you rather be a kid your whole life or an adult your whole life?
    Difficult decision.  I had fun as a kid, but more rewarding experiences as an adult, so I guess adult.
  11. Would you rather go on a cruise with friends or with your spouse?
    My husband is my friend and we have gone cruising with other friends many, many times.
  12. Would you rather lose your keys or your cell phone?
    Keys are replaceable, cell phone information not so much.
  13. Would you rather eat a meal of cow tongue or octopus?
    Ewww...gross.  Though fried calamari is OK and I once loved tongue when my grandmother cooked it because I didn't know what it was.
  14. Would you rather have x-ray vision or magnified hearing?
    My hearing has gotten so bad over the years that magnified hearing would be wonderful.
  15. Would you rather work in a group or work alone?
    Alone.  Group projects are fun and I enjoy the camaraderie, but truth be told, I prefer to work alone.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Saturday 9

Welcome to Saturday: 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!

Saturday 9: American Pie (1971)

... because Country Dew suggested it

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In the lyrics, Don McLean refers to having once been a paper boy. When you were a kid, what job or household chores did you do for spending money?
I got a weekly allowance (small...I don't remember how much but less than $1) and I also babysat (25 cents an hour for 2 kids)

2) Them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye. What's the last drink you ordered?
Can't remember.  I almost never order anything alcoholic, but if I did order something it was probably a gin and tonic.

3) He drove to the levee but it was dry. When is the last time it rained where you are?
It gives a false impression to say, truthfully, that it rained two days ago.  California is going through it's 3rd or 4th year of drought and the "rain" we had was hardly enough to wet the sidewalk.  We need rain!

4) When McLean was working on the song, he wrote the lyrics out in long hand. It took him 16 pages of lined notebook paper. Today it's a laptop/smartphone/tablet world, and Sam can't remember the last time she hand wrote anything longer than a sign on her front door that read, "Bell broken. Plz knock." What about you? What's the last thing you wrote with pen or pencil?
I always write my notes for "Today at Logos" in pen, in my own version of Logos shorthand, a combination of Gregg shorthand (of which I know a very little), my own shorthand, and figures I have made for words (like the outline of a hat for "hat."  Mostly this is so that nobody looking over my shoulder can figure out what I've written!

5) McLean's most recent CD is called "Addicted to Black," in reference to Olivia in The Twelfth Night. Quick! Without looking it up, name another character from Shakespeare.
I want to say "Macbeth," the first name that came to mind, but it's bad luck to utter that word.  And "The Scottish play" is not a character!

6) Don was born in New Rochelle, New York, which was named one of The Best Walking Cities in America by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). What about your neighborhood? Is it easily walkable?
Where we live is very flat, very safe and very, very walkable, if you are energetic enough to get off your fat butt and walk it (I, sadly, am not)

7) In 1971, the year this song was popular, Walt Disney World officially opened. Have you ever been to DisneyLand or Disney World?
My mother, sister and I went to Disneyland about the year after it opened, after I'd won 5th place in an essay contest, my prize being a one-way ticket on a luxury liner, to Los Angeles.  We went to Disneyland then flew home--my first ride on a plane.  Since then we have been there countless times, with each kid once between their 4th and 5th birthdays, with most of the foreigners we had living with us, and a couple of times as chaperones for the Jazz Choir, which performed there.  My last time was in 2000, when Peggy was visiting here.  I have seen enough of Disneyland to last me the rest of my life.

8) Also in 1971, Mattel introduced Malibu Barbie. This doll was a "sun-loving California girl" and had a distinct tan. Have you ever used a tanning bed?
Good lord, no.  Never had the desire.

9) American Pie is also the name of a 1999 movie. Have you seen it?
I don't believe I have.