Saturday, May 30, 2015

I Lost my Zen

I lost my Zen today.  Now, I don't really know a thing about Zen, but I use it to refer to the state of peace I can get myself into while waiting in line or when caught in heavy traffic.  I decided at one point several years ago that it really didn't make a difference if I was a little late or if it took a little longer to check out at the supermarket.  

That change in mental attitude has made me a much happier, much more relaxed person.

Mostly it works.

Sometimes it doesn't.

Today it didn't.

If there is any place in Davis which is likely to get me to lose my Zen, it's not the DMV (which I know does a lot of people in), it's the post office.

We have this lovely post office

And usually, I don't have a complaint.  The clerks are nice and efficient, but sometimes the office policy makes me want to...well...go postal.  Today I was so upset I didn't even take pictures.  (How's that!)

When I got there it was a zoo.  It was wall to wall people.  There were two lines forming, one for passports, a group that appeared to be a very large extended family, including Grandma in a wheelchair and two toddlers lying on the floor playing video games and blocking everybody's way.

On the other side of this very small space was a line that stretched out into the lobby.  We were the people who needed to see clerks.  The passport guy usually takes care of people who don't need to pay for postage but who are, for example, picking up vacation mail or dropping off vacation holds or something like that.  But passport guy was going to be involved with the passport people for a very long time, so that made the clerk people line even longer.

In between the long lines, wending his way around the toddlers, was a kid asking questions.  Now this is the most useless job in the post office.  Some clerk (who could be more efficiently used in actually manning a station) takes a clipboard and asks you all the questions.  You can have one very thin envelope in your hand and you have to answer whether or not you have anything liquid or hazardous like batteries in the envelope.  There are four categories to click off, starting with what's in your pouch, if you need stamps or any other thing to purchase, if you want additional proof of delivery, and if you want to rent a box.  This would be fine (if annoying) if it actually helps the clerk.  But when you finally get to the window, you hand this carefully filled out form to the clerk...and she asks you the SAME questions all over again. I can only assume that this is busy work for a clerk.  

And today the young guy doing it was a new face to me and, I assume new to the post office since he had to keep interrupting the working clerks to ask them questions.

There are, I believe, 7 or 8 stations and there were 3 clerks working.  One, a very nice lady whose first language is Spanish was dealing with what I assume was a very nice couple whose first language was Japanese.  The transaction was going on when I got there and still going on when I left a long time later.  So that essentially left her out as a potential clerk.

Another clerk was in the middle of a very long and complicated transaction with the guy in front of me, while the third clerk was chatting pleasantly with another guy.  The guy in front of me was finishing up and I expected to be next, but as soon as he left, the clerk put up a "next window" sign and left.  This left only TWO clerks working, one of whom was still dealing with the Spanish-Japanese transaction.

By this time the line was even longer.  I tried to make my transaction quick, but first I had to answer all the questions that were on the slip of paper I had just handed her, to make things go more quickly and more smoothly.

My own transaction took only a couple of minutes and then I was back in the car, flashing a sympathetic look at the people at the back of the line. (My clerk had just announced she was going to lunch, so now there was ONE clerk for all those people)

I have been dealing with the post office my whole life and I have never had a consistently good experience, though I admit it has been better lately.  Usually I "Zen-it," but today it got to me and I admit to huffing impatiently a couple of times.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Today at Logos

When Walt picked me up at 6 p.m. at Logos tonight, after his weekly beer at deVere's Irish Pub around the corner, he pointed out that I had been working at Logos for a long time.  "There have been 4 different bartenders at deVere's since you started working there!"

I myself had noticed that the notebook in which I make notes for thee entries was nearly full and went to the beginning to see if there was other stuff in the book.  But no.  Going back to January 2013, the first time I used it for Today at Logos, up until today.  Another 2 or 3 Thursdays and I'll have to get a new notebook!

When I arrived at Logos, I told Sandy all I wanted to do was sleep,  was so exhausted.  She said she had a slow morning and maybe I'd have a slow afternoon.  Fortunately that was not the case or, indeed, I might have dozed off.  But I had a steady flow of customers all afternoon.

My first customer was right out of the pages of The Big Bang Theory, a big blustery guy with a comic book t-shirt who was thrilled to have found a copy of "The X Files" in the bargain book section.  He went on about "crap TV" and talked about his favorite shows, like X Files, Star Wars and other TV shows and movies that they just don't make any more, characters, comic books, etc.  When he finally paid for his book and left, a woman who had been watching our exchange smiled at me and said "you must have an interesting job."

After a red-headed woman bought 2 contemporary fiction books, our old neighbor came in with a huge stack of books to donate.  He told me this was the last of his 3500 book collection he's been steadily clearing out, realizing that he's not a kid any more and that he needed to do cleaning up.  He told me this was the stack of books he had read and re-read and finally decided he probably would not read again.  I think the stack included every book written by Robert B Parker, a mystery writer with whom I was not familiar.  I started reading the first in the series and like it.

When Loren left, there were 5 customers in the store who had come in while we were visiting for about 20 minutes, getting caught up on our children's lives.  Three of them left shortly after Loren without buying anything.

A woman in white skinny jeans, a black shirt, her hair in a bun with a chopstick through it, glasses and flip flops started looking at the old books. I had this flash that never in my life had I been that thin and there is no way I would ever have worn white anything.  She ended up leaving without buying anything.

Another women I was sure was French came in.  She was stylishly thin, had a gamin hair cut, black tights with a black and white checked tunic over it.  She wore wedge sandals with decorative black straps and had big wire-rimmed glasses she wore low on her nose.  I could just see her fitting in right at home on the streets of Paris.  She was every stereotypical French woman you've seen in magazines or movies. She looked at sheet music for a long time, and ultimately bought "Words of Love" a book of Pearl Buck quotes set in a coffee-table kind of motif.  I was disappointed when she talked to me with no trace of any kind of accent.

A balding older man wearing a South Park t-shirt, a khaki colored baseball cap and cargo pants with pockets came in.  I was reminded of an interview I recently saw with fashion consultant Tim Gunn, who said if he could get rid of any fashion piece it would be cargo pants and how nobody looks good in them.  This guy certainly didn't. But he did look cool on this hot afternoon.  He bought a copy of "Canterbury Tales" and told me to keep the 70 cents in change because Logos was a good cause.

A nice, clean cut affectionate couple, both in shorts, came in, but left after browsing the history section for a while.

A young guy looking for a job came in.  I gave him the spiel about volunteers and gave him the contact information for Susan and Peter, but warned him they were on vacation right now.

An older guy with a black hat that wasn't a cowboy hat, not an Australian akubra, but something like both of them.  He bought a book called "The Emperor's New Mind," a popular science book about computers, the mind, and the laws of physics.  He said he had been looking for it for a long time.

A very nice women in a tapestry print cotton dress looked at the bargain books for a long time and finally bought 6 of them and a bag (our bags are 25 cents).  She admired the artwork on the walls and wanted to know the price for some of the pieces.  Unfortunately I didn't have that information, nor did I have the name of the artist.

My old friend the antiquarian, who has not been in for months, popped in briefly, looked at the old books for less than 2 minutes, waved a cheery wave and left again. I guess there was no new old stuff that interested him.

A guy brought a stack of all the popular political books -- both of Obama's, Hillary's, Doris Kearns Goodman's "Team of Rivals," and a couple of others.  He put them in a tall stack on the desk and said he wasn't sure he wanted all of them.  He eventually bought 3 and said he might wait to read Goodman's book for awhile because the last book he read was also quite thick and it took "forevs" to read.  We now speak in text abbreviations!

My friend came in around 5.  Apparently his new time.  He used to come in around 4 but the last few times I've seen him it has been loser to or around 5.  He bought a book on China.

A woman who is planning a trip to Egypt to spend time with her daughter, who is teaching there, bought two books on Egypt.  We talked about the unrest there and she said whether she goes or not "depends on what the State Department says."

Another guy in cargo pants, with a light blue plaid shirt came in, emphasizing Tim Gunn's observations about the style.

A guy bought a book with the title of "Theory of Syntactic Recognition for Natural Language," which I had to check on Amazon to find out it was about artificial intelligence.

A guy spent some time in the section with books on plant pathology but told me he really was looking for gardening books, so I directed him to that bookshelf and he browsed for quite a while but ultimately did not buy anything.

An athletic young woman with a messy pony tail strode in directly to the Lit section.  She wore a short back skirt and carried a paisley blouse, a heavy looking backpack.  She wore sensible shoes with black socks.  She was there a short time and bought a copy of "White Fang."

Shortly before 6 the runners from a local running club came jogging by the front of the store, and shortly after Harrison, the office manager who takes over for me when Susan and Peter are out of town arrived.

Walt and I came home and since I was still exhausted, I fell asleep watching Jeopardy, so it was nearly 8 before I started dinner.  I made a dish I found in a cookbook at the store.  It was OK, but I won't make it again. I managed to stay awake for The Daily Show but staggered off to sleep right after and actually slept 8 hours.  Hopefully today will be better, since I am better rested.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Brief Return to Ukraine

I collapsed last night.  Not literally. I mean not literally in a bad way.  It was after midnight when we got home from San Francisco and I sat down to watch The Daily Show and pretty much conked out for the night.

Walt was running around doing final stuff for the upcoming Beer and Cider Festival that he is helping to organize, which will take place on Saturday.  This is a fund raiser for Citizens Who Care, the support orgaization for the frail elderly and their caregivers.  He's been on the board for several years now.  They got a wonderful piece on the local news yesterday and, thanks to having a son in radio, will have a good plug on Jack-FM today or tomorrow.

He got home about half an hour before we were to leave for the Bay Area.

As we usually do, we drove to Walnut Creek and took BART in to the city to avoid having to drive in city traffic and, harder, find a parking place.  BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is a great deal because it lets you out just a couple of blocks from Davies Hall.

I was upset shortly after we left the house because I realized I had not brought my Kindle and would have nothing to read on BART while we rode to the city.  But technology is my friend and I discovered I could get the book on my iPhone Kindle app, so all was well after all and I was able to read to and from the city.  Whew.

Walt gave me my BART ticket when we got to the station, I went in and put it in my pocket.  We then sat outside waiting for the train, got on and started off to the city. 

When we got on, I checked my pocket and my ticket, which would get me out of the station in San Francisco was there.  When we got off the train, I went to get my ticket and it was gone.  I don't have a clue what happened to it, but felt terrible about it.  We couldn't find a station attendant to explain my plight and that I was stick inside the terminal gates, so I just went out a 'BART EMPLOYEES ONLY' gate.

Char, who also comes in to the city on BART, texted me to let me know she was at the restaurant, Max's Opera Cafe, drinking and we should meet her there.

Max's is 2 blocks from Davies Hall and we eat there whenever we go to the symphony.  I don't know if Char and Walt eat there every time they go to the symphony without me.  This time I was smart.  I have reached a point where I just can't eat a full dinner any more.  There are lots of nice options on the menu, but I went with a stuffed mushroom appetizer.  It was five large mushrooms stuffed with a cheese mixture, topped with pesto, and sitting in marinara sauce.  It was just the perfect size, along with some bread and if I had ordered something from the dinner menu, I would have been stuffed.  And besides that, the mushrooms were delicious!

The "main event" after the first act of Stravinsky's Jeu de cartes and Elgar's Cello Concerto in E Minor was Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.  We were in time for most of the pre-show chat and his comments on the Mussorgsky were fascinating.  I never realized that the composer wrote the piece for piano and the orchestral version of it has been arranged by several people.  We were seeing the Ravel version, but he played several other versions, each quite different from the other.  The oddest arrangement was for a balalaika orchestra.  (He said that he decided not to buy the version for a saxophone orchestra!)

But the piece was, of course, glorious.  The final section, "The Great Gate of Kiev" was very moving and we remembered when we were in Kiev standing at what is left of that gate.

I told Walt I didn't hear anything which indicated a big pink plastic cart where you could buy soft drinks, though.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Soap Opera

While I was engrossed in my daily dose of blood and gore from one of my marathons (NCIS, Criminal Minds, SVU), Walt was upstairs watching a soap opera.

Actually, it wasn't a TV soap opera, it was more a close to home soap opera.

First I have to explain our street.

This is the street where we live, our house being just out of sight on the right.  The street takes a couple of gentle turns both where you can see it here, and behind me, coming from the direction of the high school where it makes a sort of an S turn.  In our first years here, there was no divider down the middle and the high school kids used the street for a race course.  There was a major accident almost every year.  One year they crashed through our neighbor's yard and dead ended on top of our newly planted tree.

The worst accident, though, was when a car went out of control and went through the wall of our neighbor's house, across the street from us.  It stopped at the foot of the bed of a little girl who was sleeping and it set the house on fire.  All the people got out all right, but the pets died.

After that accident we had several meetings with city planners to figure out how we could cut down the speed and the accidents.  After discarding several suggestions, we finally went with the planter in the middle of the street, with the idea that as the trees grew, it would become more of a residential looking area and kids would be less likely to speed.  It seems to be working because we probably have not had an accident along this stretch in about 20 years.

The thing is that the planter is so wide that they had to reduce the road space on our side of the street.  You can see that on the right there is a lane for cars and a lane for bikes.  On the other side there is a lane for cars, a lane for bikes and a lane for parking.  No parking on our side of the street.

But today, Walt spied a car parked just beyond our house.  Not only was it parked on the street, where you aren't supposed to park, but it was parked so that its back end was near the curb and its front end poked out into the street (kind of like I park on the street at Atria--but I'm in a legal spot!).  This made it difficult for cars to pass, impossible for bikes to ride down the bike lane, and very difficult for the big city buses to pass by. At one point there was a bus stopped with the driver out of the vehicle, trying to decide if it could squeeze by the car, while a line of cars built up behind it, waiting for it to move.

Walt was watching all the fun from his office upstairs, and then running downstairs to let me know what was happening, since I was sitting in the back where I couldn't see out the front window. We just don't have excitement like that around here!

Finally someone called the police and a police car and a tow truck showed up to move the car.

(In this picture the car has been straightened so
 it's not blocking the street like it was before)

They got it moved just in the nick of time, right before another big bus came by.

I wonder what happened when the owner of the car returned to find his car gone!

So we've had our excitement for the year and life is henceforth a blank.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


I hadn't anticipated spending the afternoon comatose, it's just what happened.

I hadn't been to Atria in about 4 days, so it was time to go pick up laundry.  I got to the apartment at 11:15 and my heart sank.  Was today the day?

My first clue, whenever I go to see her, that she has survived another night is seeing that her newspaper has been picked up out of the delivery box.  But it was still in the box.  Nervous, I knocked on the door and there was no answer.  I got out my key and let myself in.  I could see the bed unmade.  I peeked into the bedroom and she was lying there, eyes opened.  I couldn't tell if she was breathing or not.  "Are you awake?" I asked, and she said that yes, she had just awakened.

Whew.  She was alive.

But she was quite disoriented.  Said the last time she remembered seeing on her clock was 3 a.m. (and had been up and down all night before that) and so slept until after 11, which is actually 8 hours, so a good night of sleep, if slightly off what she expected.

We visited until she began to wake up.  She told me somethig she had never told me before, that she was always embarrassed that there were so many children in her family because their family (of 10) was so much bigger than anyone else's in town.  Of course by the time she was born, the oldest 3 or four were already grown and gone (and my mother had a nephew 6 months older than she was!), so there were really only 6 or 7 at home.

After she was finally fully awake, she got her hair brushed and we went off to lunch.

I picked a great day to go to lunch.  Since it was Memorial Day, they had a buffet, but not the buffet they have on Sundays.  This was actually better -- fewer choices, but better quality.  I had 3 slices of a tri tip roast which was rare, just the way I like it, a bit of potato salad, and half an ear of corn on the cob.

My mother wanted fruit salad and vegetable soup, but there was no vegetable soup, so she decided to have chicken.  I went and got it for her, since her back was bothering her, and there was no fruit salad either, but I did get her a couple of slices of watermelon. 

The corn on the cob was really good.  I am always leery about that particular food item from a food warmer, but this was fresh, warm, crisp and sweet.  My mother had decided not to have any but when I raved about how good it was, she decided she wanted some.  I remembered this was the woman who, in her teens, once ate 12 ears of corn for dinner!  When she took her first bite, she closed her eyes in bliss.

After lunch, I picked up her laundry and was pleased to see there were clothes in it this time, and no sheets, and then headed on home.

When I got here, I was feeling kind of light headed and just weird and shaky.  I decided to take my blood sugar, which was 50, the lowest it's ever been, so I had a couple of apricots and it started climbing back up again. I took a short nap, and felt more normal when I woke up. But soon, I had to go to the bathroom, which is where, alternating with sitting in the recliner, I spent most of the rest of the afternoon.  It got to where I brought fresh clothes to the bathroom so they would be there if I needed a change -- and I did.  Twice. 

I finally remembered we had Imodium in the house and took one of those magical pills.  Things stopped almost immediately (of course by then I was completely empty anyway!).  I wrote a haiku about it for Facebook.
Bad afternoon, then
Along came Imodium
All is well again

(I think)
I told Walt he would have to fix his own dinner and I just continued to lounge about in the recliner, alternately watching one of the Outlander episodes from the week end marathon that I had recorded or a cooking program when I needed a break.

I finally started feeling human around 8, and by 9 had a little bit to eat, but not much.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Paul Picnic Returns

It was probably the year after Paul died when his best friend Kag decided we needed to have a "Paul Picnic" over Memorial Day week end.  It was a grand success...a bunch of friends getting together, with Paul the reason, but pretty much the forgotten picnic guest.

We had such a good time that it became a yearly event.  There was no picnic last year (things got busy for Kag and his family) and don't remember if there was one the year before (or if maybe we just didn't go then), but the picnic was back again this year.

Everyone brings food, there is a communical barbeque, games, and the fun of it all is watching how much the kids have grown in the previous year (and how Paul's friends have turned grey--they all have, but Ned wins theprize for the ost grey).  Every time I look at his friends settling into middle age and their children starting to think about college, it makes me realize how long Paul and Dave have been gone.

The last time we were at a Paul Picnic, the little kids set up "spas," where we each had the chance to get manicures, pedicures, and facials (usually putting cucumbers on our eyes, while they massaged our feet).  This year the kids set up a lemonade bar, where they had a container of simple syrup, one of lemon juice and then various fruits that they could squeeze into the glass to give the lemonade a flavor.  My cherry lemonade came with a slice of cherry attached to the rim of the cup, like an orange on a mixed drink.  Very cute.

I was thrilled that our friend Pat and Mike Hayes showed up for the picnic.  They live in Sebastopol and this was the first of these events they have been able to attend.  We haven't seen them in several years. Their daughter Siobhan was also attending for the first time (though son Joe, who was in Lawsuit, comes every year).  Mike and I both showed up wearing our Boston Red Sox hats (naturally I took a picture to send to Jeri)

Of course there was music.  There is always music at these gatherings.

And I found this cool lady bug.

The younger generation spent a lot of time either playing ball on the nearby hill, or at the playground a bit of a walk from the camp site.  The rest of us sat around, trying to find sunny spots (it was cold!)

All in all, just a nice, low key afternoon with friends of many years, most of whom I remember from when they were in grammar school!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

What If He Were Gay?

OK.  I can't avoid the tabloid comments here.  Unless you've been in a coma today, if you've seen any media reports you know that Josh Duggar, oldest son of the 19-child family, stars of their own reality TV show, has been caught with his pants down.  Sort of.

Apparently when he was 14-15, Josh sexually molested (fondled breasts and genitals) of five girls, some of whom were his sisters.

When Dad Jim-Bob found out, he sat on that knowledge and didn't talk with anybody for a year after the molestations and then reported it to his pal, an Arkansas police officer.  The report was made at the officer's home, not the police station, and, as the officer was himself arrested on a child pornography charge a couple of days later, no charges were ever filed against Josh.  Dad also conferred with his church which advised not to go to the police. 

So Josh was not detained by the law and he received no psychological counseling, but was instead sent off to an uncle who had a logging place or something like that, where he would presumably work off his hormones by working hard, sweaty work.

The Duggars, those paragons of morality, the visible spokespersons for family values have hidden this information for 12 years.  It finally came out when a magazine, based on a tip, did some digging and came up with documentation.

This bothers me so very much on so many accounts.  They talk about what they did for Josh after he molested girls.  Nobody has said anything about what help the girls received after what must have been disturbing experiences at the hand of their son.  

The reaction to this news now is also interesting.  Mom says it was a "dark time" in their family history but that things are better now.

Mike Huckabee has come out in support of Josh:
"Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, 'inexcusable,' but that doesn’t mean 'unforgivable.' He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities," Huckabee wrote in a post on Facebook. "No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things."
Others have said that it is a shame people are making "such a big deal" out of this just because the Duggars are famous.

The Family Research Council, of which is supposedly also a paragon of family values issued this statement:
“Today Josh Duggar made the decision to resign his position as a result of previously unknown information becoming public concerning events that occurred during his teenage years. Josh believes that the situation will make it difficult for him to be effective in his current work. We believe this is the best decision for Josh and his family at this time. We will be praying for everyone involved.”
The organization, committed to protecting children and families, never identifies the “concerning events” nor condemns Duggar’s behavior.

OK.  Let's try this scenario.  The molester is not famous  He's a 14 year old gay boy from a family that nobody has ever heard of.  He molests five other boys.  People find out about it.  

Will the police agree not to book him? Do you suppose he'll just be shipped off to Uncle Al for good, physical work excise his hormonal demons?  Do you suppose everyone will rally around him talking about "youthful indiscretions" and "He's better now, so leave him alone"?

The mother of the child molester is presently campaigning against a bill which would allow trangender women to use the ladies room.  She made a recording for a robocall, part of which says:
“I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls. We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child.”
This from the mother of a known sexual molester with a lie about trangenders designed to evoke fear from Fayetteville parents.  She makes this claim with no evidence that anybody has past child predator convictions, like her son does.  Oh.  Right.  They didn't convict her son because the preference of the adults in his life was to ship him off elsewhere.

This whole thing is so terribly disgusting. But maybe it will knock Huckabee out of the presidential race and reduce the GOP cast of characters wanting the White House down to 18.  Just call me Pollyanna -- always looking for a silver lining.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Lazy Ladies

This luncheon has been going on for 40 years.  A chance for friends to get together for a leisurely lunch. 

They invited me yearly for a long time, but the lunch was always mid-week, and I always worked.  They eventually stopped inviting me.

They took a break for a few years, as family matters which go along with an aging population interfered, but I was delighted to get an invitation for this "reunion." (Though sad that, ultimately, Natalie was not able to attend after all.)
The only problem was that it was being held on a Thursday, my Logos day.  I finally decided to play hookie.  Anne, who filled in for Sandy when she was on vacation is now an on-call volunteer and I asked her if she would work for me today so I could go to the lunch.  She agreed, and I was free to finally attend my first Lazy Ladies' Luncheon.

Apparently the history of this lunch was that it started in 1976, a chance to get together with those women whom you first got to know in PTA, or Little League or Scouts or some other organization and now never see, unless you happen to pass accidentally downtown (where everyone admits nobody goes any more!)

Apparently the event continued annually until about four years ago and there hasn't been one since.  But perhaps the impetus for reviving it came from a tea I attended a few months ago, where I got to see a lot of women I know in Davis, but rarely see any more.  It was held at the home of our kids' former nursery school teacher.

So when the "save the date" e-mail came, I assumed this, too, would be held at someone's home and was surprised when the official invitation arrived saying it was at the local country club.

Was I surprised when I arrived! This was no "little" luncheon.  There must have been 80-100 women there and I probably had known half of them, at least, over the last 40 years, though may not have seen them in 30.  What fun!  There was the psychiatrist's wife, the wife of our kids' high school music teacher, two women I actually see for lunches a few times a year, the woman I used to work with at the bakery, a friend of Marta's mother whom I did not recognize until she introduced herself to me, lots of women I worked with on various school projects, the former mayor of Davis, a few women who had been involved in one capacity or another with the Davis Comic Opera Co., a woman who is the town historian, our kids' nursery school teacher....everywhere I looked there was either someone I remembered or someone who looked familiar and I was embarrassed not to remember her name.  Fortunately we all wore name tags. Only one woman brought up Paul and David (for which I was grateful), but her kids had performed with our kids (David's only on-stage kiss was with her daughter).

It was a real ego booster for me, as I had so many women come and tell me how much they enjoyed my reviews (though one woman asked if I was still writing them, since she hadn't seen any in awhile--and this is my busy season, so there has been at least one a week, if not three!)

I sat with our friend Dair, one of my favoritest people, whom I have not seen in several years, since she moved to a retirement complex out of Davis, but she and her husband were the reason why we took on our Mexican daughter, Marie, who has now become such a successful business woman.  She had not heard of all of Marie's recent fame and we were able to smile that we both remembered her when she was just a little girl in a little town in Mexico that someone thought could achieve good things if she had the chance of an education in the United States. It was definitely nice getting caught up with Dair and sharing stories about our grandchildren.

There was a lovely salad and soup buffet lunch, with cookies for dessert, and our hostess greeted us with a few words, starting out by asking who in the room has had some part of her body replaced.  Probably half of the room raised their hands (this is an experience I have yet to have, though can knee replacement be put off forever?)

I came home on a real high.  And as it turned out, I could have still gone to work at Logos, since I was back home by 1:30, but since I immediately fell asleep for about 2 hours, it was probably just as well I had taken the afternoon off.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Oh sheet

I thought we had figured out a solution to the laundry problem.  Once I started bringing her laundry to her in a laundry basket, rather than just leaving it on her bed, she stopped taking her clothes to the front desk saying they weren't hers.  I was proud of myself for solving that problem.  Apparently not.

When I got home from the book club yesterday, Walt let me know there was a message on the answering machine for me.  It was a semi-ominous message saying she was calling about my mother, that everything was OK, but that I needed to talk with either the person leaving the message (I couldn't understand her name) or the nurse and that calling them the next day would be fine.
So I called in the morning and learned that my mother has ... twice ... brought sheets to the dining room to turn them over to someone.  They thought I should know.  


When I brought her laundry home to wash last week, I was pleased to see that it was a big bag.  She has given me nothing but underwear for a month, and as she wears the same 3 outfits in rotation every day, surely they must need washing.  But she refuses to give them to me because "they aren't dirty."  But this was a hefty bag of laundry and I figured she had finally given me her clothes to wash.

But when I came home, I discovered there was only underwear and her sheets and pillow cases.  What the heck...?  She pays Atria to do her bedding.  But I washed it and when I took everything back to her, she said that the housekeeper had not done her bed in two weeks (which I always don't believe since sometimes she thinks she has only been at Atria for a few months, so her concept of time is way off).  I could see that trying to reason with her was an exercise in futility, so I just left the laundry basket with the sheets and her underwear on her bed, as I always do.

However, before I left, she gave me back the basket, which means that she left the folded sheets on the bed.  Bad.

I figured out what probably happened was that the sheets were not in the basket, so she didn't know where they came from and thought she needed to take them somewhere and couldn't think of anywhere else to take them but...the dining room?  Twice?

So I sat her down and told her we had to talk.  I kind of laid it on thick to hopefully make an impression on her.  I told her that I felt like I'd been called to the principal's office.  I then told her what she had done and, of course, she has no memory of doing it.

But in the space of less than 5 minutes she had given me three or four different versions of what happened with the sheets, everything from she has no memory of ever seeing sheets, to finding them folded on her table and knowing that they belonged "somewhere" but she didn't know where (in none of versions did she remember taking  them to the dining room, for any reason).  She knows she herself has never changed her sheets, though two days before she had told me she had.

I tried to scare her and told her that I didn't want Atria to think her dementia was too bad for her to live in her apartment and that she would have to move, reminding her of when her mother, my sweet little old grandmother, had been kicked out of a rest home for behavior problems (though in her case it was for swearing like a sailor and knocking frail old people off their walkers!)

I tried to make a joke.  I had brought her some lovely sunflowers, which she loved and would interrupt me to talk about how beautiful they were.  I suggested that whenever she looked at the sunflowers, she should think of sheets.  Kind of silly, but I thought maybe that would work.  A few minutes later she looked at the sunflowers and said "I look at those flowers and I'm supposed to remember something, but I can't remember what."  I said "the sheets."  She said "what about the sheets?"

It's a lost cause, so if she gives me her sheets to wash again, I'll just put them in the linen closet when I bring them back.  I tried that with her clothes, but she finds them and doesn't recognize them.  Generic white sheets should be easier to "hide."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I'd Drive 75 Miles...

My never ending quest to find like-minded people with whom I can discuss books has taken me far afield this time.  About a month ago, Char suggested I might like to come to her book club.  She's been talking about this club for a long time and it sounded so much like what I was looking for than anything else I'd encountered that I said I'd give it a try.

(Actually what I really want is a handful of women sitting in someone's house drinking wine and talking about a book and their lives, but that doesn't seem to be available to me!)
The book they were reading this month was "The Rosie Project," by Graeme Simsion, a book I really enjoyed.
Don Tillman is a brilliant geneticist who probably suffers from Aspergers Syndrome.  He has decided it is time to get married and sets about finding a mate scientifically by creating a 16 page questionnaire designed to weed out any women who would not suit him.  He calls it The Wife Project.
Rosie Jarman is all the things he does not want in a wife prospect. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.
The thing about this book is that it could have been written by The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon Cooper, so it was fun to picture him while reading it.  A light read, but enjoyable.
That was the mini review I wrote about it at the time.  I especially enjoyed it because of how easy it was for me to hear all the words in the hero's mouth coming out of Sheldon Cooper.  I was eager to hear what others had to say.

Today was the meeting.  I decided attending Char's book club had another wonderful benefit to it -- it takes about an hour and 15 mnutes to drive to her house and that means two and a half hours of audio book time.  I was in the last parts of my current audio book, "One False Move" (a Myron Bolitar mystery by Harlan Coben) and felt that I might come close to finishing it by the time I got home from Char's.

The club meets at the local senior center (I immediately came home and checked our senior center to see if there might be a book club that met there, but didn't find one) and while we were driving there from Char's house, I asked her how many were in the club and she said it varied.  Sometimes as few as 3, but they had had as many as eleven once.

"The Rosie Project" must have been a very popular choice because there were sixteen people crammed into a tiny room in the senior center.  But there were enough chairs, though some had to sit in a back row.

It was a lively discussion with everyone having an opportunity to contribute, which is totally what I missed during my brief time in the Woodland Shakespeare Club.  They seem to be a nice group, except for one woman who dominated the discussion with comments more about her family problems than the book.  I took an instant dislike to her and was pleased when Char told me that her daughter had quit the club because she couldn't stand the woman either.

Toward the end of the discussion someone asked how many were surprised when such-and-such happened and that elicited the biggest debate of all, since there was a definite division of oppinion about the event, with people having polar opposite opinions, and everybody pulling out their copies of the book to read quotes from that section aloud.

It was a fun afternoon.  The book for next time is a heftier tome, "The Goldfinch," which I bought about 2 years ago for my Kindle and have not yet read, so I came home and started it right away.  I can already tell that unlike "The Rosie Project," wich someone in the group today called "cotton candy for the brain" this is going to be a more serious read, but I'm already looking forward to discussing it with the group.

By the time I got home, there was only 48 minutes left of my audio book and as there was nothing on TV tonight, I was able to finish it in short order.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Not So Speedy

I have been in computer hell.  Again.  Thank god for my guru, with whom I have a love/hate relationship!

It started with yesterday's entry, and wanting to scan photos to use of my experiences with Mt. St. Helen's.  To scan photos, I use PhotoShop Elements, choose the "import" command to my printer, and it gives me a choice of importing from my camera, or from the scanner.

Only yesterday, it didn't give me the scanner option.  I've been using this method for more years than I can count, and at least 3 years since I got this new Canon printer, so it's not like I was making some rookie mistake.  What the.....

My old printer would not scan when I was out of ink, for whatever reason, and I was nearly out of ink on this printer, so I went to the store to buy replacement ink, but once that was put in, I still couldnl't see the scanner.  I tried rebooting the printer, but that didn't help.

I tried contacting PhotoShop, thinking this might be a software problem, but could not find a help number, so tried the Canon printer web site and found a 24/7 tech help number, which I called, reaching Sunil Kumar (of course), whose English I only understood about 2/3 of the time.  I explained my problem and he said he would have to check my computer to make sure I had the right drivers (because I wasn't sure how to check that).  I was still under the impression that I am talking with one of Canon's reps.  I allowed access to my computer and he started searching things and things flew about my computer rapidly while he was speaking things I could sometimes understand and sometimes comprehend.  This went on for a long time.

Then he showed me on my screen how the problem was that the "Network Access Protection" was turned off and that he was unable to fix that on my computer, but he would check with his supervisor.  When he came back he said something about how his supervisor might be able to fix it if I signed up for their year-long protection, for "only" $350.

He said I could take the computer to the nearest Microsoft store, which, he told me, was 77 miles away and they would keep it for several days and I would have to pay $350 to them, or I could just pay him the $350 and his manager would fix it for me and make sure my computer would be fine for a whole year (after which, presumably, I would owe another $350)

Red flags were waving, bells were going off, and I felt as if I was trying to do business with a used car salesman.  But this had been the tech rep I had called from the Canon web site!

Nevertheless, I was not going to fork over $350 and would find a work around if I couldn't get the scanner to work (the pix I used yesterday were photos of pictures).  I played the "poor little old lady on social security" card, saying I would have to see if I could afford $350.  

He kept adding to the list he had typed up for me on my screen showing me all the problems my system had and that's why I did a smart thing:  I hit "print screen" so I could save it, which turned out to be a good idea because when I told him I would have to think about it and call him back, he immediately erased the list.

He was grumpy, and reminded me that the problems with my system were "growing daily" and I needed to get them fixed sooner before it was too late.  He gave me his "private number" and extension to call when I had figured out my finances.

Well.  I immediately wrote to my guru and while waiting to hear from him, I tried another graphics program which also had an "upload" capability and it, too, could not see the scanner either.  Then I tried the Big Guns.  I rebooted the computer.  Voila!  I have scanner access again.

But I had a lot chat with my guru and he wanted to check my computer to see if he could figure out what these shysters had done.  Turns out it was a bogus Canon web site which led you to a company called Speedy PC Pro and all over the internet there are exposes about them and instructions for how to remove their software from your system.

It took Steve a long time and he found dozens of places where Speedy PC had added fun little things to my computer which would cause problems down the line (needing more "fixing" by them, presumably).

But supposedly I have a clean PC again.  And incidentally, before I called him, I decided to dial the call-back number Sunil Kumar had given me to see what happened.  An operator answered, not "Canon printers" to "Speedy PC."  I hung up immediately and within seconds, there was a return call saying 'Beverly?  You just called me."  Like Canon would do that!  I hung up on that call and it was called again, which I just ignored.

Oh...and that "Network Action Protection" that was causing all of my problems?  It's something I don't even HAVE on my computer and is handled by other software.

So be forewarned.  Stay away from anything that smacks of Speedy PC Pro.  Apparently the only thing they are speedy and professional about is trying to scare you into giving them hundreds of dollars for repairs you don't need.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Thar She Blows

It was 35 years ago this week when Mt. St. Helens blew her top.

It was the only significant one to occur in the contiguous 48 U.S. states since the 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak in California.The eruption was preceded by a two-month series of earthquakes and steam-venting episodes, caused by an injection of magma at shallow depth below the volcano that created a huge bulge and a fracture system on the mountain's north slope. An earthquake at 8:32:17 a.m. on Sunday, May 18, 1980, caused the entire weakened north face to slide away creating the largest landslide ever recorded. This suddenly exposed the partly molten, gas- and steam-rich rock in the volcano to lower pressure. The rock responded by exploding a hot mix of lava and pulverized older rock toward Spirit Lake so fast that it overtook the avalanching north face.
57 people were killed in the eruption, including 84 year old Harry Truman, who had lived on the mountain for many years and didn't believe it was going to erupt
(surprised HIM, I'll bet!)

At the time of the eruption, our very first foreign student, Eduardo, from Brasil, was living with us.  We were all very interested in what was going on in Washington State and Eduardo really wished he could see it.

Walt's good friend Dave lived near the mountain in Beaverton, Oregon, which was receiving a lot of fallout of volcanic ash.  So we planned a trip to take Eduardo to see Mt. St. Helen.  It just so happened that on that same weekend, our friend Michele was giving a surprise 50th birthday party for her husband Richard.  We knew that there would be a stripper there and we gave Eduardo the choice of Oregon or stripper.  But he grew up in Rio de Janeiro and could see naked ladies anytime -- but when could he ever see volcanic fall-out again?  We took a friend of his with us and went on a camping trip.  

Because of all the ash still in the air, it was recommended that we wear face masks for our protection.

There was in deed a thick coating of ash on just about everything, especially on the leaves of the plants around Dave's house.  Our kids, ever the entrepreneurs, gathered a bag of volcanic ash and when we returned home, they set up a "Punch and volcanic ash" stand.

They sold little bags of ash for 10 cents, I think, and one irate father stormed over demanding his kid's money back because he felt tht he had been cheated.  We assured him that yes, we really HAD been in Oregon and this really WAS volcanic ash...but if I remember correctly, he didn't believe us and insisted we give his kid's dime back anyway.  (The kids may remember this more accurately than I do).

I revisited Mt. St. Helens in 2000, when Peggy was here.  We were staying with my friend Diane in Seattle and Peggy also wanted to see the mountain.  I was actually curious myself to see the change that had taken place in twenty years.

Twenty years after the fact, the signs of the devastation were still evident everywhere. The power of the explosion from the mountain could be seen in the dead trees, still lying like matchsticks wherever you looked, many larger trees uprooted (and this after years of clean up). There were burn scars on the walls of the opposite hills, and walls of silt/lava many feet tall seen on the floor of the valley beneath the mountain. It was an awesome sight seeing it up close and personal then.  I wonder how it has changed in the 15 years since I last saw it.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Princess of Procrastination

I have always worked best under pressure.  If you want a job done, don't give me a month to do it, give me a deadline of tomorrow.  If I have a month I can find a zillion reasons not to do it until it's due the next day.  I can't say that I produce my best work that way because that's the way I have always worked.  Who knows what kind of work I would produce if I took my time and did it slowly?
When I have a job to do is when the dishes get washed, laundry gets folded, drawers get straightened, and things get baked.

When procrastination is at its worst is when the job involves transcription.  I worked as a professional transcriptionist for pretty much most of my professional life and there was a point at which the thought of putting earphones in my ear and transcribing what I heard became so abhorrent that it made me physically ill.

At the time when The Psychiatrist finally figured out I really didn't want to do his work any more I had a stack of untranscribed tapes that would have filled a drawer.  I don't think he had a clue how many untranscribed tapes I had.  But he had this kind of hypnotic, monotone voice when he dictated. I worked for him for thirty years and my body reached a point where it just rebelled against typing one. more. damn. tape.

So we were both happy when we agreed to part ways, amicably.

But that experience has left me with such an aversion to transcription that I've learned to do telephone interviews where I transcribe as my subject is speaking  In truth, these are not the best interviews because I really like the face to face encounters and ask better questions face to face, but I also take rotten notes and so I must record the interview, and if I record it, it must be transcribed before an article can be written.  In truth, it's one of the reasons I avoid doing feature articles any more (that and the fact that I make 50% less writing them now than I did when the paper said they were cutting my income in half "just for one year"(yeah right), due to newspaper cutbacks, though they take 50% + more time than a review to write).

But I recently did an interview for an article which, if I get it written, will appear in the paper next week.  I did the interview 3 weeks ago because it was my subject's last day in Davis and my only chance to do an interview. It was the kind of interview I love, where you toss out a question and get back a perfectly "written" article.  All you have to do is copy it to paper...after transcription, of course.

So I've had this tape (the interview was only an hour) for 3 weeks and as of this morning, I had transcribed one sentence.  Today was going to be The Day I would finish it.

By dinnertime, I had folded 2 loads of laundry, had a delightful 2 hour coffee with my friend Kari Peterson downtown, shopped for Davis postcards and little books to send to Brianna and Lacie tomorrow.  I'd done a load of dishes, written a letter to one of my Compassion kids and edited the page of letters from the Compassion kids, did some organizing on my desk, updated my review blog, wrote a note to Jeri about the current review of Cinderella, and rebooted my computer, as requested by one of my anti-virus programs.  The screen told me it would "take awhile" for the updates to upload, so I sat down to just look at the current rerun of SVU on today's marathon.  Of course it was one I had never seen before, so naturally I had to watch it to the end.  I noticed there was no information on a calendar to the "Next Door" web site for the beerfest Walt is organizing, so I made one for him. I had looked at the dictation machine, but had not touched it and it was time for Jeopardy and then of course dinner and then we had to watch the finale of Amazing Race and Grimm.  It is now 10 p.m. and there is a PBS special on King Henry VIII's palace at Hampton Court (which we toured many years ago).  I have the show set to record tomorrow morning at 4 a.m., but I may sit down and watch it now too.

And of course I wrote this journal entry... and now it's much too late to start transcribing.

I can surely finish off the transcription in a couple of hours tomorrow morning, can't I?  Except I have to take my mother's laundry to her, and STARZ will let me see the new Outlander in the morning....

Friday, May 15, 2015

Today at Logos

Whew.  I'm wiped out.  It's a good thing today was a Logos day because after watching the season finales of Grey's Anatomy, The Blacklist and Scandal one right after another, I don't know that I have the energy to write anything else but a recap of the day!  (FWIW final scenes of Scandal were the best of the 3.)

I had a lovely chat with Sandy for about 30 minutes.  She and her wife are going through major landscaping and she's a better man than I am, I have to tell ya!  While we were talking a guy who looked like our kids' friend Kag was eavesdropping and occasionally adding a comment himself.

A middle aged man bought 3 literature books and then an older man came in, kinda shaky, wearing a visor and glasses that wrapped around his head and came apart at the nosepiece in the middle.  Not only did he have regular glasses, but also sunglasses on top of his head.  He wandered around for awhile and was finally joined by his wife, a thin woman wearing a navy dress and a straw hat.  She bought 2 bargain books (one of which was a book of golf jokes) and a book on the Old West.

As for him, he said he had some books to donate and then went on and on about the eclectic nature of his collection and how he had already donated some to a library in England.  The problem was that he was so soft spoken that I only understood about 1 in 5 words and at one point I said "yes" to something and he was surprised that I had heard of that book.  Oops!  Busted!

While he was lecturing me, a guy came in with 20 books to be donated.

A woman bought a bargain book and counted out her pennies to pay the $1.  She was one penny over!  While she was counting her pennies anther old man paid for another bargain book.  For a minute, because of the hat and his grizzled appearance, I thought it was the soft spoken man back again, but it wasn't.

A guy came in looking for an out of print book.  It always amazes me that so many people come into the store where we have, for the most part, one copy of each book (some are multiple copies, but those are rare) and  they expect me to check a database to see if we have a certain book.  Do you know what a nightmare trying to keep a database of all those books would be???  They also assume that because I work in a book store, I know every book ever written and which books every author has written.  Fortunately I do have my smart phone, so I can check...and even Amazon hadn't heard of the book this guy was looking for.

A woman came in wearing flip flops.  She had the weirdest toe I'd ever seen.  It kind of stood straight up next to her other normal toes.  I wondered if she could wear anything but flip flops!  She was looking for a book by Henry Pressman, a new to her author but didn't find anything.  She did buy a bargain book, and then, when she checked the cookbook section, bought another book, on award winning recipes from the Gilroy Garlic Festival because she found a recipe for garlic basil bread pudding (which sounded delicious).  We started talking about garlic and she told me that taking just one garlic clove a day had cured her of her upper respiratory problems.

I shared with her the story of the woman I once worked with who was really into garlic and had lots of it at every meal.  The problem is when you eat copious quantities of garlic, you don't just have garlic breath (which I don't mind), but you excrete it out of your pores and the excreted garlic smells nothing like garlic breath.  In fact, working with her I would sometimes get nauseous just smelling her and moved my desk to an open window so I could get some fresh air.  I don't think she ever realized how bad she smelled and I didn't know her well enough to tell her, and she was an otherwise lovely lady.

An English woman rushed in looking for the credit card she had left behind, which Susan called and told her about.  She found it and went on her way.

A couple came in.  He looked like a college athlete -- maybe rugby, judging by the clothes he was wearing.  He bought a Steinbeck book, and then his female friend bought a different Steinbeck, saying she had never read him before.  Oh what a lovely adventure she is about to embark on, if she enjoys his writing as much as I do.

A young man with a backpack was looking at the science fiction books toward the front of the store when a friend of his, passing by, saw him and came in to chat.  Ultimately she bought a book of the Arabian Nights and he bought two books, one a Bible and the other a book on religious doctrine (presumably he did not find those in the sci fi section!)

An older man wearing wrinkled clothes, slouched in, moving slowly, dragging his feet, and letting his arms hang by his side.  He was very pleasant and reminded me of my paternal grandfather in his later years.  He got a book off a shelf and sat down at the front table to read.  After awhile a woman looking very much like our San Francisco friend Wilma in about 20 years sat down next to him and got her own book to read.  Eventually they put both books back and left without buying anything.

My friend arrived shortly after 5 and was delighted to find an old book, printed in the early 1930s.  It was about Toulouse Lautrec and was written in French.  He doesn't read French, but the book was in very good condition, was only $4 and had great etchings in it.  I told him now he could invite people up to see his etchings.

My last customer was looking for books by Lee Child.  She was unsuccessful but bought a mystery about the Knights Templar.  Were there always books about the mysterious Knights Templar, or was that a craze started by the success of Dan Brown?  Re Child books, I told her that Walt and I decided that if you eliminated the sentence "Reacher said nothing" from Child's books, you could cut the length by one quarter.  She laughed and agreed with me.

Walt went off to "Celebrate Davis" when we got home.  I stayed at home because I remembered it was lots of booths set up in the local park by many businesses to give you crap with their name printed on them.  You can also buy over-priced food there (the good stuff is usually gone by the time you get there), but it's a great place to meet friends (though the last time I went I didn't see a single person I knew, other than those manning a couple of the booths)

He was home before the fireworks started.  We had to put The Blacklist on pause because we couldn't hear over the sound of the dogs barking (we had locked them in the house).  Polly and Lizzie barked, Sheila went into the living room and hid under the dining room table.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Simply Delightful

You know those drinking games some folks play?  Like you watch a political speech and every time the speaker says a certain key word you down a glass of beer or a shot of whiskey or something?
I started giggling while trying to write the Cinderella review today, thinking that you could get drunk if you read a bunch of my reviews and took a swig every time I use the word "delightful."

So many of the shows are...well...delightful that I am hard pressed to find a different way of saying it and I'm boring even myself.  I have visions of readers grabbing one of my reviews and seeing how far they have to read into it before I use the "d" word.  The production is delightful, so-and-so's performance is delightful, the little kids are delightful.  I can use the "d" word 3 or 4 times in one review, if I'm not careful.

Many, many years ago, my friend Stephen Peithman told me about a book that has become one of my bibles. 

For anybody who writes, especially advertising copy (which a review isn't, of course, but it's the same principle), this is a gold mine of different ways of saying the same thing.  It promises to be "the thesaurus to help you promote your products, services, and ideas."

I stick with the "Key Word Index," which gives me (almost) every possible word I might want to find a substitute for.  Words like "affluent, affordable, alluring, amazing, appealing, aristocratic,' etc down to "Zesty."  Find the word you want to substitute and the index takes you to a page (or 2 or 3) with possible suggestions for other ways to say what you're trying to say.

Check out "delightful" and it directs you to a page titled "Pleasure/Satisfaction" and offers suggestions such as "Imagine the fun you'll have," "the time of your life," "your passport to...," "entertains while it...," "hits the spot," "great family fun."  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.  Instead of "delightful" this time I went with "This is a production that will entertain all generations in the family."

There are times I don't know what I'd do without this book!

After I finished writing the review, I went off for my monthly trip to Costco.  I usually need to go to Costco for several reasons (a) we have run out of dog treats (that's usually the #1 reason), (b) I'm out of butter (it's $2.50/lb at Costco and nearly $5 at the local supermarket), (c) we need a new box of puddle pads for Polly, and (d) I have nothing left in the freezer to cook for dinner.

Today, I needed to shop for everything.  Bought two boxes of puddle pads, 2 boxes of dog treats (that's $50 just for dog stuff), 8 lbs of butter (Yeah--I know, I know), 8 lbs of ground beef wrapped in little "chub" packages, and a big lasagne that would do double duty -- dinner tonight and reheated tomorrow so I don't have to cook after working at Logos.

Trips to Costco are the one time that I don't feel guilty about spending lots of money.  Heading back to the car with my cart heaped high with items that will get me through the next month, I could only rate the time I had just had at the Big Box Store as .... delightful.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spoiler Alert

Spoiler alert:  In the end, Cinderella ends up with the prince.  I know, I know...I hate people who give away an ending like that.

It was like going to a royal wedding at the Sacramento Community Center for the opening of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s "Cinderella" tonight.

There was a royal white Cinderella coach drawn by white horses on which you could have your picture taken, which pulled up in front of the theater. 

The red carpet featured a parade of pint-sized princesses with tiaras and sparkly shoes. (Left your tiara at home? No problem. You can buy one in the lobby.) In the lobby you could also pose in front of the stairway to the palace.

In the theater itself, the stage was dominated by a magnificent forest of trees which, over the course of the evening would move in all sorts of wonderful ways to make different configurations.

In the orchestra pit there was a real live orchestra with a real live conductor (Jay Alger). So many musicals these days use synthetic music that the sound of a full orchestra of over a dozen real musicians and 20 different instruments was like six months at the seaside.

Then there was the production, which features the most spectacular magical costume change I have ever seen...the sort that makes you want to hit "rewind" so you can see it again because you can’t believe what you just saw (kudos to William Ivey Long, costume designer).  Cinderella and her fairy godmother are discussing why she can't go to the ball, and Cinder indicates her plain dress and suddenly...poof! the middle of her song, Cinderella turns around quickly and her dress magically turns into a gorgeous ball gown.  There wasn't a person in the theater that didn't have his or her mouth hanging open, wondering how did they DO that????

And then, if that wasn't spectacular enough she does it again in Act two, this time tossing a bundle of rags up into the air and when they come down on top of her, she is wearing a gold gown. I've seen quick change artist acts on shows like America's Got Talent so I know that it is a trick that many people do, but it has left me gobsmacked each time I see it.  That was worth the price of admission right there (especially my admission, since I was sitting in a $90 seat for free!).

There’s even a real fire-breathing dragon to start things off. No expense has been spared on this production!  And fortunately it's a production worthy of the expense.

As we left the theater, I was following behind a mother and her daughter, about 4 or 5 years old, I would guess.  She was wearing sparkly flip flops and one of them fell off on the red carpeted steps to the lobby.  I asked her if she was hoping the prince would find it and come looking for her.

I think my humor was a bit too sophisticated for her.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Brilliant Thoughts

Maybe you've heard of Ashleigh Brilliant (yes, that's really his name).

If you have not, you're more likely to have heard of his pot shot postcards, which used to be plentiful on postcard racks, at least in California.  I don't know if they ever ran in any other newspaper but they ran (and I believe are still running) in the Santa Barbara newspaper, because he lives in Santa Barbara.

He was Twitter before there was an internet -- "Brilliant Thoughts in 17 words or less."

He has created more than 10,000 delightful postcards, with wonderfully wise sayings and witty graphics to accompany them.

He has written 9 books featuring his pot shots, books with wonderful titles like "I may not be totally perfect, but parts of me are excellent," "I have abandoned my search for truth and am now looking for a good fantasy," and "All I want is a warm bed, a kind word, and unlimited power."  There are also 5 books other than pot shots, with which I am not famliar, with titles like "Be a good neighbor and leave me alone" (which sounds like itcould have been written by my father," and "Breaking free from boomerang love.  Getting unhooked from borderline personality disorder relationships."

There is an extensive web site that is worth exploring (it could take you hours).

Born in England in 1933, he ultimately settled in Santa Barbara and became a US citizen in 1969 (their loss, our gain).  Pot shots began syndication in 1975.  Wikipedia tells me that the Wall Street Journal described him in 1992 as "history's only full time professional published epigrammitist."  He is apparently a familiar figure riding his bike around Santa Barbara.  (The link is to a fun 30 minute video, which also gives a nice view of Santa Barbara).  Or you might prefer this 60 minute video instead.

I think we started collecting his stuff when it first began appearing.

He sends out periodic (they may be monthly--I haven't checked) newsletters to subscribers, which are kind of their own blog posts, what is going on in his life, what is on his mind.  He is candid about the highs and lows.  He wrote awhile ago about an accident he was involved in on his bike, which put him in the hospital for a long time, and other health problems ("a broken leg (4 years ago), a heart stent implant (18 months ago) and a broken arm ( just 5 months ago)")

He's a wonderful eccentric, a popular figure in the Haight-Ashbury during the heyday of hippie culture, now a respectable suburban artist.

I don't know how reclusive he is, but Walt's sister is a big fan and a few years back, on her birthday, her husband arranged to meet Brilliant at a local bar.  Reports are that he was quiet, but pleasant and it was a huge thrill for Alice Nan to spend time with him.

Ashleigh Brilliant is a real maybe unknown treasure and it is my pleasure to introduce him to those who may never have heard of him before.  He has brought us untold hours of joy over the years

And BTW, all of his images are copyrighted.  I probably should have written to ask his permission to use them here, but I got the idea for this entry in the middle of the night and there wasn't time.  But I do include the copyright on them!